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Older Workers (Survey)

Volume 927: debated on Tuesday 1 March 1977

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12.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when his Department expects to have the result of the inquiry into why older workers give up or carry on working; and if he will make a statement.

My Department and the Department of Health and Social Security have jointly commissioned this survey from the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys with a view to increasing our understanding of the factors which influence older people to go on working, cease work or modify the nature and amount of work they do. We also hope to find out how their decisions are affected by the various rules which govern the receipt of the national insurance retirement pension. Initial results are expected at the end of this year, with further analyses in the first half of 1978.

As the survey has been jointly conducted with the Department of Health and Social Security, is the Department of Employment using it as a means by which it can make a formal recommendation for the age of retirement to be lowered? If that is not the case, to what practical use will this expensive research be put?

It is not particularly expensive as a piece of research. The estimated cost of the survey is £157,000. There are pressures for a more positive policy in this area involving earlier or more flexible retirement, age discrimination legislation, and generally more protection for older workers. I believe that the survey will be of value in disclosing the facts on those matters.

Does my hon. Friend accept that a major contribution to the solution of our unemployment problems would be made if there were an early extension of the job-swap scheme to all parts of the country and if it were to include other age groups within its compass?

This matter was discussed on Second Reading of the Bill, and if a few more Members are present in Committee we shall be able to discuss the matter generally then.