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Unemployed people over 50 forced into retirement without help to find work

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Unemployed older people are being forced into early retirement with no tailored support to help them find a job, the TUC has claimed.

A TUC report drawing on findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA), shows unemployed people over 50 are 10 times as likely to still be out of work after two years than back in a job. And men over 50 are 24.3% less likely to find work again.

The unemployment rate for people over 50 is currently 4.3% compared to an overall employment rate of 7.8%. But for people aged between 18 and 24, the figure rises to 17.3%.

Although the Government is taking steps to help young people back into jobs, it has not implemented any tailored support for older workers. The TUC has called for the Government's Future Jobs Fund - where employers receive subsidies for taking on an person who has been unemployed for six months - to receive extra funding and be extended to benefit older workers.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "The idea of forcing older workers out of the labour market is morally offensive and would cause economic chaos. The UK would instantly lose vital skills and experience and young people would not necessarily be in a position to take up their jobs.

"We must not forget older people, who have skills and experience needed to get us through this recession. The Government must introduce tailored support for older people to prevent them being forced into retirement against their will and face old age in poverty."

Chris Ball, chief executive of the Age and Employment Network (TAEN), added: "The attention of the TUC to the plight of older job seekers is well overdue. Once someone in their fifties or sixties has remained out of work for six months, the difficulties of returning to work multiply enormously. In practice they are very likely never to work again.

"We are calling on the Government to give intensive back-into-work assistance to older unemployed workers within three months of the date they sign on as unemployed, rather than at six months at present."  

But on the other hand, working employees over 50 hoping to retire in the next few years could be in for a shock, as research from Aon Consulting today shows 24% are not aware of the increase in minimum retirement age, coming into effect in April 2012.

Currently the minimum retirement age is 50, but this is due to rise to 55 next year and the State pension age for women is rising from 60 to 65 - although only 46% of employees are aware of this change.

Helen Dowsy, principal at Aon Consulting, said: "These findings have clear implications for Britain's workforce and their employers. It is disappointing, but not entirely surprising so few people are aware of the changes to the minimum retirement age and State pension age. Employers must not only help their workforce understand the implications of retiring but also review and prepare for alterations to their own budgets. With an older workforce, benefits costs are going to rise and employers must be prepared."