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Support into Employment: Over-50s

Volume 729: debated on Monday 6 March 2023

The Government are already providing £20 million for an enhanced offer to help older workers remain in, or return to, work. That includes provision for 37 full-time 50-plus champions, who deliver the midlife MOT, and for older workers jobs fairs. That includes the three 50-plus fairs held in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (James Sunderland) in the last few months.

The over-50s are a massive resource for our workforce, so could the Minister please outline how we might incentivise back into work those who retired during the pandemic, and those aged over 50 who have left the uniformed services and are seeking a second career?

My hon. and gallant Friend served with dedication in the armed forces before becoming Bracknell’s champion. He will be aware that our armed forces champions go to great lengths to assist ex-servicemen and women in finding second careers after their service keeping us safe. He will also be aware that the Chancellor may have more to say on the issue next week, on the 15th.

The Minister speaks about the ambitions for encouraging the over-50s to remain in the workforce. Will the Minister tear up his prepared answer, and tell the employees at the Department for Work and Pensions Clydebank office—mostly working-class women over the age of 50—how he squares that with his Government’s rank hypocrisy, which has left them struggling for work during a cost of living crisis?

There are now 10.7 million 50-plus workers—a figure that has gone up by 2 million in the last 10 years. Local DWP jobcentres are constantly engaging with employers to showcase the benefits of hiring older workers. I urge the hon. Gentleman to go to Halfords in St James retail park in Dumbarton in his constituency, because Halfords is one of the employers employing over 100 new over-50s apprentices on an ongoing basis. The hon. Gentleman should visit and learn something.

As you know, Mr Speaker, because of my youth, I do not have to declare an interest. Does my hon. Friend the Minister agree that, on the whole, older people tend to be more punctual, dedicated and reliable, and able to spell? What is he doing to tell employers that those factors are the reason why they need to employ older people?

Of course my hon. Friend, who I am sure is under the age of 50, does not need to declare an interest in the Government’s desire to ensure that we have more over-50s in employment. He will be aware, however, that in the past few months there have been four jobs fairs across Staffordshire and Derbyshire open to those from Lichfield who are 50-plus, and planning is under way for another event that will take place shortly.

May I add my voice to the calls for us to use the talents of people who are over 50? I am approaching that stage myself. Some of the best years of my life were after 50, in terms of the number of jobs that I was able to do, and the new schemes and social enterprises that I was involved with. I know many people who are waiting for that second chance to contribute to our economy, and to social enterprises, if the Minister will give them the right incentive.

The hon. Gentleman is right. I agree with him; there is life in the old dog yet, as they say. It is important that we continue to make the case that employment for the over-50s should be supported by all employers.