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12 December 2012
New analysis of the Government's Work Programme by Age UK shows that participants in the scheme aged 55 and over are finding it harder than any other age group to move back into work.
The problem is particularly stark for people aged 60 plus. The figures show that of the 9,500 people aged 60 plus referred by Job Centre Plus to the Work Programme in the first 14 months of the scheme, only 140 people (1.48%) managed to find a job through the scheme.
For people aged 55-59 the rate was 2.79 %. These figures compare to a success rate for 18-24 year olds of 3.78% and (3.75%) for those aged 25-34. The overall rate is 3.56%.
The Work Programme began in June 2011. Its target, set by the Department for Work and Pensions, was to move 5 % of participants into work, across all age groups, so the scheme has so far failed to achieve its objectives. The success rate is particularly poor for older workers.
The results are further evidence that older unemployed people find it harder than any other group to get back into work. They come on the heels of the latest ONS job figures which show that nearly 49 % of unemployed older men and women have been out of work for at least a year, compared to 30 % for 18-24 year olds
The proportion of people moving into sustainable work is likely to improve as the scheme continues, but the over 55s are likely to continue experiencing worse outcomes unless action is taken.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK said,
“These figures are another stark reminder of the huge challenges facing unemployed older people. Many are being locked out of the job market for no reason other than their age.
“If the Government does not take urgent steps to ensure that older people, many with extensive skills and experience, are able to work and save for later life, we risk creating a generation of older people in poverty – putting more pressure on the nation's already stretched purse strings.”
Currently, older people are not referred to the Work Programme until they have been out of work for 12 months when they are considered long term unemployed. At this point, statistics show it is harder for them than for any other age group to find work.
Age UK believes that older people should be referred to the programme earlier, giving them a more realistic chance of finding a job.
In addition, Age UK is calling for incentives for contractors running the Work Programme to encourage them to find jobs for older people who are the most challenging age group to place in work.