Furlough alert: 1 in 3 over 50s on scheme as state pension ‘safety net’ out of reach

Furlough: Andy Haldane suggests pay rises may be the answer

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According to analysis of Government data by Rest Less, around one in three people in the UK aged 50 or older are still on the furlough.

Research carried out by the online community for over 50s shows that this number has been steadily increasing throughout the year, rising from 27 percent in January to 34 percent in June.

In comparison, the number of under 30s on the scheme dropped from 29 percent to 21 percent over the same time period.

This is despite the overall proportion of furlough jobs falling from 2.4million to 1.9million between May and June.

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, has warned the Government of the potentially dire consequences the country will face if there is a lack of intervention.

Mr Lewis said: “The country is reopening, and the total number of people on furlough is falling quickly – by three million since the beginning of the year. However, the recovery is clearly not working for everyone, with more than 630,000 people aged over 50 still on furlough and waiting to find out if they have a job to go back to.

“This is in addition to the 568,000 over 50s claiming job seeking or out of work benefits. When the furlough scheme draws to a close next month, we’re expecting it to be accompanied by a fresh wave of redundancies and another spike in unemployment levels – delivering another blow to workers in their 50s and 60s.

“Faced with significant age discrimination in the recruitment proceess, and no Government equivalent to the Kickstart scheme for older workers – the implications of redundancy for workers in their late 50s or early 60s can be significant.”

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Specifically, the head of Rest Less emphasised how workers over 50 are set to be the most adversely affected by the upcoming changes.

He explained: “Once made redundant, workers over the age of 50 are two and a half times as likely to be in long term unemployment than their younger counterparts.

“Rather than being able to top up their pensions in those crucial years before retirement, many will find themselves having to dip into what pension savings they do have – leading to a significant drop in long term retirement income for decades to come.

“Faced with the increased likelihood of long-term unemployment due to age discrimination in the recruitment process, many could find themselves forced into an early retirement they neither want, nor can afford. For those less fortunate, that means potentially many years on job-seeking benefits before they can access the safety net of the state pension.”


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Mr Lewis added: “Workers in their 50s and 60s have so much to offer – from knowledge and technical skills to a wide range of transferable skills.  

“Whilst more Government support for dedicated retraining programmes is urgently required, we are beginning to see increasing numbers of progressive employers reaching out to us to understand more about the benefits of an age diverse workforce and intergenerational teams.”

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which is commonly referred to as furlough, has assisted an estimated 10million Britons during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the scheme, the Government provides employers with a percentage of their workers’ wages despite the business being temporarily shut due to coronavirus.

Furlough allowed many workers across the country to still have money coming into their households, despite being out of work.

As of August 1, the Government will now be only paying 60 percent of wages as pandemic restrictions continue to be rolled back.

On its website, the Government explains: “This is up to a maximum cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee is on furlough.”

Before this change, 80 percent of wages were covered by the furlough scheme, up to £2,500.


This is the latest move from the Government as it continues to rescind financial assistance schemes originating from the pandemic.

From July 1, it reduced its financial assistance to workers, paying 70 percent of wages up to £2,187.50.

Those on furlough are encouraged to keep up to date on the Government’s updates to the scheme.

At this moment, the entire furlough scheme is expected to be phased out by the end of September.

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