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Older People: Employment

Volume 609: debated on Monday 9 May 2016

There are now 9.6 million workers aged 50 and over in the United Kingdom, an increase of 1.3 million over the last five years. The Government are, of course, doing much to support older workers. We have, for instance, removed the default retirement age, allowing people to choose when to retire.

Bearing in mind that the Leader of the Opposition and I both have a vested interest in the future of older workers, will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming the fact that the number of unemployed people in Southend has fallen by 37%, and will she ensure that we maintain policies to secure that downward trend?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I know that unemployment rates are plummeting in his constituency, among others. The Government are focusing on, and committed to, delivering first-class support to all age groups, particularly employment support.

Statistics published last month show that more than 600,000 people in their 50s and 60s are helped into work through the tax credit system, which provides vital in-work support. How many of those 600,000 will be eligible to receive in-work support under universal credit?

As the hon. Gentleman will know—because we have discussed the issue, and because it has already been raised in questions today—universal credit is a simpler benefit, which provides much more targeted support to help people into work while also securing long-term job outcomes. As I have said, when it comes to older workers, we are committed to delivering first-class support for people of all ages, including older workers, and working closely with them to secure employment in the long run.

On the basis of that answer, it would seem that the Minister has as good a grasp of numbers as the Minister for Schools has of words. Let me try to give the right hon. Lady some assistance. Perhaps it would help if she read the Resolution Foundation report. The answer is that one third of working families on tax credits—that is 200,000—will not be eligible for any support under universal credit, and another 200,000 will lose £2,000 a year. Will the Minister tell us why this Government are so intent on attacking older people in work?

The hon. Gentleman is now speaking about older workers as well as working families. We need to look at universal credit in the context of the support that it provides. He also mentioned the Resolution Foundation report, which failed to take on board various factors such as childcare support for working families and the ongoing support that universal credit and our work coaches provide to working families.