Keep Working For Britain, Urges Pension Minister

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Pension minister Steve Webb is urging the over 50s to work on to support the economy and to boost the pension funds.

In a policy dressed up to encourage businesses to unlock the potential of an older, experienced workforce, Webb is appointing an older worker tsar to promote employing workers past retirement.

The package also includes measures to help workers with health problems stay in a job.

The announcement comes on the back of new research by the Department of Work and Pensions that shows that 28% of over 50s who have not reached state pension age are not in a job.

Out of these 2.9 million people, just 700,000 have retired early.

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Older workers are under-used resource

From the rest, around 1 million are too sick or disabled to work, 420,000 are caring for others and 330,000 are jobless.

The statistics also show 16% of men and 25% of women who reach retirement age have not been in work since they were 55 years old.

Around half of workers do not work in the year before reaching state pension age.

“Older workers are an under-used resource by businesses,” said Webb.  “They have skills, talent and experience that could aid many businesses.

“Because we are living longer and remaining healthier until later in life, many of us can carry on working for longer. However, businesses do not see the benefits of employing older workers for some reason, so we want to promote a change in thinking.”

Benefits for business

He also explained that businesses will need to consider employing older workers as the pool of available 16 to 49 year olds shrinks by 700,000, but the number of workers aged between 50 and state pension age rises by 3.7 million.

The government also points out that the employment rate for the over 50s is around 60%, but is significantly less than that in other countries, where around 70% is considered a reasonable figure.

In recent years, the government has tried to tear down barriers stopping older workers from continuing their careers.

These moves include scrapping the default retirement age and bringing in new laws to make sacking someone over 65 on age grounds only an offence.

“Working longer also means people have more time to pay off debts before giving up work and to increase their pension funds and savings as well,” said the minister.