Rest Less Warns that Rishi Sunak’s Youth Kickstart Scheme Could Leave At Least 660,000 Over 50s Dependent on Universal Credit for a Decade

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, commented:

“The government is right to commit resources to support youth employment in its Kickstart Scheme but the current policy will significantly distort the labour market, reduce permanent job creation and make it much harder for other under-represented groups like the over 50s to find work.

‘Pre-pandemic, workers aged over 50 were more likely to be made redundant, to be in long term unemployment, to have less access to workplace training and to face heightened age discrimination in the recruitment process post-pandemic*.

‘Following today’s announcement, with more over 50s claiming Universal Credit than those under 24, and redundancies surging, why would any company create a permanent role and hire a 61 year old who has just been made redundant, when they could hire a 23 year old for free on a temporary six month basis?

‘With 660,000 over 50s claiming Universal Credit in May (up from 304,000 in March) and the state pension age increasing to 66 this year – given the known challenges facing the over 50s in the recruitment process, we expect hundreds of thousands of over 50s to be forced into an early retirement they cannot afford, living off Universal Credit until they reach the state pension age – which could be as long as 10 -15 years.”

Rest Less’s analysis of data from the Office of National Statistics** shows:

  • Over 50s have been responsible for 73% of the UK’s employment growth in the past 20 years since 2000.

  • Universal Credit claims from the over 50s increased by more than 355,000 between March and May this year, taking the total number of Universal Credit claims amongst this group to nearly 660,000. This compares with an increase of nearly 288,000 claims amongst the under 25s in the same time period.

    (Please note Universal Credit claims are a particularly poignant measure as it highlights the financially precarious position of this group with less than £16,000 in savings after three decades in the workplace)  

  • Based on data to April 2020 – at the beginning of lockdown – inactivity levels amongst 50-64 year olds increased by more than 48,000 in a month and are now at their highest level ever (3.3 million) – providing early indications that many in this age group have been and are likely to continue to be pushed into early retirement as a result of Covid.

‘We need to see the Government launch initiatives to help the whole of Britain get back to work, not just one section of the population, to the detriment of others. We would like to see the Government launch specific initiatives to support older workers back into the workplace – as they have done with young people – which focus on dedicated retraining and upskilling programmes such as later life apprenticeships, tailored entrepreneurship support for older workers and financial incentives for businesses to hire older workers like the Australian Restart programme.”

56 Year Old Made Redundant in March. Lives With Her 21 Year Old Son Who is Struggling to Find an Apprenticeship And Has Been Unemployed Since February

Ruth Slack, aged 56 is from Bedfordshire and lives at home with her 21 year old son. Ruth was made redundant in March after working in marketing for a tyre company which imports from China and business began to slow. Her son was previously working for Centre Parcs but left his role in February to focus on getting an apprenticeship which he hasn’t managed to find yet. Ruth had to go on JSA before finding a temp role with the government’s track and trace programme. She is desperately searching for a permanent role as money is tight. She is currently searching for a new role through a number of websites, including Rest Less.

More case studies available on request

Notes to Editors

*Data from a Rest Less member poll of 878 over 50s – when asked if they thought age discrimination in the workplace would increase as a result of coronavirus, 70% said yes
**Figures are based on analysis by Rest Less of data from the Office of National Statistics’s Labour Force Survey comparing employment levels from January to March 2000 with those in January to March 2020

For media enquiries, please contact:

Aisling Gray
Head of Communications
Phone: 07900996065
Email: [email protected]

About Rest Less

Rest Less (restless.co.uk) launched in December 2018 and is a membership community for the over 50s designed to help its members get more out of life. Rest Less has thousands of jobs available on its site from progressive age-friendly employers across the country. Rest Less is the leading site in the UK to offer flexible opportunities to work, volunteer or even start a new career path, specifically targeting the rapidly growing over 50s market.

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