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Unemployment: Older Workers

Volume 494: debated on Thursday 25 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent steps her Department has taken to assist unemployed people over the age of 50 years to find work. (282052)

The Government are committed to giving everyone the support they need to find employment as quickly as possible, whatever their age.

A major factor in the employment of older people is employer behaviour. In addition to providing generic good practice guidance to employers, the UK’s Age Positive initiative is working in partnership with business leaders to develop sector-based models of flexible retirement to support the increased employment and retention of older workers and the removal of fixed retirement ages.

Our plans for the future include providing guidance to older workers on their options for working longer, encouraging employers to increase flexible work and phased retirement opportunities, and monitoring the impact of the economic downturn to identify which groups are being most affected and targeting further help where it is most needed.

On 6 April 2009, as part of the Government’s response to the economic downturn, the Department for Work and Pensions put in place extra support for newly unemployed customers, including information and advice about the latest job search techniques and coaching on how to make the most of transferable skills. Extra help for those who have been claiming jobseeker’s allowance for six months was also introduced, including opportunities to volunteer, support to become self-employed, recruitment subsidies and work-focused training.

Since last autumn, the Department has also quadrupled the available funding for the rapid response service, which provides advice and support to customers facing redundancy. It has extended local employment partnerships, the adviser discretion fund and access to work so they are available to customers from the first day of their claim, alongside the support they receive from their Jobcentre Plus personal adviser.

The introduction of the flexible new deal across phase 1 areas from October 2010 will give providers the freedom to offer personalised, tailored support to everyone who has been claiming jobseeker’s allowance for 12 months, helping them overcome their individual barriers to work.

This will be available to jobseeker’s allowance customers of all ages to ensure that everyone has the best possible chance of finding work.

In addition, the budget announced the future jobs fund and young persons guarantee. Future jobs fund places will be available for older people from disadvantaged areas who are facing significant barriers to employment.