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New figures show older workers deeply impacted by Covid-19

Published on 04 May 2021 02:19 PM

Age Scotland is calling for more support for older workers, as new research reveals they remain among the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics found that older workers aged 50 years and over have been affected to a greater extent by the pandemic than those in the middle age groups.

Over a quarter (1.3 million) of those on furlough are aged 50+, with 3 in 10 older workers on furlough believing there is a 50% or higher chance they will lose their job when the scheme ends in September.

Those aged 50 and over also had the highest overall increase in redundancy rate in the latest quarter, rising from 4.3 to 9.7 per thousand, while 13% have changed their retirement plans as a result of the pandemic.

The national charity for older people has warned that we cannot afford to let older workers be left behind but, without proper support, there is a real risk that older workers may struggle to financially recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Age Scotland’s Chief Executive, Brian Sloan, said:

“We know that those losing a job in later working life already found it extremely difficult to find another and were more likely to be at risk of long-term unemployment, and this has only worsened due to the current economic downturn.

“The danger then is that people could be tempted or forced to dip into retirement savings earlier than planned and face a much longer period on a lower income as a result.

“It’s also worrying to hear of so many older workers having to change their retirement plans, and this will be particularly hard for those who haven’t yet been able to build up the retirement saving or pensions that would help them live well in later life.

“We cannot afford to let older workers be left behind as the economy gets moving again. Their years of experience and transferable life skills are a vital part of the workforce and something both employers and the economy would greatly miss.

“Unfortunately, we know that ageist workplace attitudes can often lead to older members of the workforce being overlooked.

“Given that a third of our workforce are now over 50 and this number is set to rise as changes to retirement and state pensions make working beyond 65 more common, there must be more of a focus on supporting older workers through this crisis and beyond.

“The UK Government and next Scottish Government must take steps to provide inclusive and thorough support to retrain and upskill where required; remove barriers to ensure older workers can continue to contribute to the labour market; promote age inclusive workplaces; and combat negative stereotypes about older workers.

“Employers also have a responsibility to help and should be creating age inclusive workplaces as well as supporting staff through training and skills development opportunities, and ensuring they have access to advice and support when planning for retirement.”

-- Ends --

Notes to editors:

  • The ONS figures are available here.
  • Age Scotland’s Action for Older people election asks document is available here.

Contact Age Scotland's media team:

Age Scotland provides a seven day a week response service to media enquiries through a dedicated telephone line and email.

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