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Older people contribute £61bn to economy

Published on 30 June 2014 11:01 PM

£61 billion - the economic contribution of people aged 65 plus says Age UK report

People aged 65 and over in the UK contributed £61 billion to the economy last year through employment, informal caring and volunteering, according to a new report by Age UK.[i] That's equivalent to 4.6 per cent of gross value added, [ii] and six times more than the money spent on social care by local authorities in England.[iii]

The Age UK Chief Economist's report found that £37 billion of the total amount came from employment and £11.4 billion from informal caring. Child care contributed £6.6 billion. Nearly £6 billion came from volunteering.

For the first time there are now more than eleven million people in the UK aged 65 and over[iv].  A growing number of them - more than a million - are working. Although some will be doing so from financial necessity many others want to work for longer because they are in good health and because what they achieve at work is valuable and worthwhile.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK said, 'These figures demonstrate the huge contribution that older people are making to our economy.  To put them in perspective, local authorities in England currently spend considerably less - just under £10 billion - on social care for older people[v].

'Many will be surprised by just how much older people contribute but it's time we appreciated that they are playing a more and more important part in creating our prosperity. Older people bring a great deal of knowledge, skill and energy, as volunteers and as paid employees, and in doing so they are redefining what it means to be "an older person".'

Age UK's  annual 'state of the nation' report, Agenda For Later Life, launched this morning, focuses on what it's like to be an older person in the UK today and the importance of being prepared for the period of our lives after full time work potentially lasting between 30 and forty years.

Caroline Abrahams added, 'With our rapidly ageing population and the rising State Pension age it's more important than ever that we consign age discrimination to the past and enable older people who want to continue to work to do so.

'Youth unemployment is a serious concern and some may worry that older people who work are depriving young people of jobs; however, the economic evidence is clear that employing older workers does not affect the number of jobs available to younger people.[vi]'

Unfortunately, mfany older people who want to keep working still find themselves locked out of the labour market as a result of age discrimination. More than 113,000 men and 65,000 women aged 50[vii] and over have currently been out of work for more than a year and are finding it really tough to get back into work. Many others have resorted to part time work when they would ideally like to work full-time.

The Age UK report also reveals that the bulk of child care undertaken by older people is carried out by those aged 65 and over - most frequently probably grandparents who look after their grandchildren, to enable their own adult children to work - an example of the crucial economic (and social) contribution older people often make, even when they are not in paid employment themselves.

For further details on how the estimates were calculated or interviews, please contact the press office.

Get the Agenda for Later Life report


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Media contact: Mallary Gelb
Tel: 0203 033 1682
Out of hours: 07071 243 243

Notes to editors

  1. Age UK Chief Economist's Report  Spring 2014. Based on analysis of ONS Labour Force Survey,  ONS Annual Survey of Housing and Caring,  ONS Economic Accounts, Understanding Society, Pacey Annual Survey of Child Minding Fees
  2. Gross Value Added (GVA) is a measure of the production of goods and services in a country or region.  GDP is GVA plus taxes on products minus subsidies. Therefore GVA is more appropriate than GDP to analyse the contribution to economic activity.
  3. £9.8 billion  - Local Government Financial Statistics England no. 24 2014
  4. ONS UK Mid-13 Population Statistics 26 june 2014
  5. £9.8 billion  - Local Government Financial Statistics England no. 24 2014
  6. Banks et al (2008) ‘Releasing jobs for the young? Early retirement and youth unemployment in the UK'. Institute for Fiscal Studies Working Paper W10/02
  7. ONS Labour Force Survey May2014

Age UK

We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI and our local Age UK partners in England (together the Age UK Family). We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.

Age UK believes that everyone should have the opportunity to make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances.  We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle.

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we").  Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).

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Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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