Tuesday 14 September 2021 4:16 pm

Wave of redundancies looms for older workers as furlough nears end

Research suggested that 31,000 workers aged 50 or over were made redundant between May and July.

Now fears are growing of a wave of redundancies among over 50-year-olds when the Government’s furlough scheme ends.

The unemployment rate for 50 to 64-year-olds has increased from 2.8 per cent to 3.4 per cent since the start of the pandemic, an analysis of official figures by the Centre for Ageing Better showed.

The campaign group said there were still more than 360,000 people aged over 55 on furlough, the scheme which finishes at the end of the month.

It called for more support for older people to return to work, saying it feared the end of furlough will lead to a wave of redundancies.

Emily Andrews of the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Over-50s have had a rough ride during the pandemic.

“The employment rate gap between workers under and over 50 is now growing, threatening to reverse decades of progress.

“With the furlough scheme ending, there is a real risk that we could see a fresh wave of redundancies among this group.

“This is particularly worrying, because we know that over-50s struggle more than any other group to get back into work once they are made redundant.

“Without action, we are likely to see many people in their 50s and 60s falling out of work for good and losing all the benefits of being in good work.

“We need to see tailored support for over-50s to get back into work and a strong message to employers, job coaches and employment support services that this group are as entitled to support as younger workers.”

Alistair McQueen, head of savings & retirement at Aviva, commented: “Beneath the encouraging headlines about recovery in the labour market, the underlying data gives indications of possible longer-term damage.

“Prior to the pandemic, the activity levels of the over-50s – that is those in work or seeking work – had been steadily climbing. This trend has since stalled, and there is no sign of the lost labour being recovered. Aviva estimates that more than 400,000 over-50s have been lost to the labour market.

“This loss of experienced workers is potentially damaging for the UK economy and for the long-term financial wellbeing of those impacted.”