The government's objective of getting more people to put off retirement to a later date has taken a knock with research showing most people over the age of 50 are subject to age discrimination when looking for new jobs.
Although more Britons want to work beyond the statutory minimum pension age, actually finding new employment after the age of 50 is extremely difficult, a survey published by Age Concern suggests.
Based on interviews of more than 3,000 people over the age of 50, the survey finds the message older people must work longer before taking their pension is getting through.
More than half the survey group say they want to continue working beyond their retirement age, with about a quarter saying they want to work for as long as possible until forced to stop.
However, despite the eagerness, about 80% of those surveyed say they have been rejected by employers simply on the basis of their age.
Age Concern estimates that 250,000 workers over the age of 50 are currently unable to obtain work in London alone because of age discrimination, equal to some 7% of the total workforce in the capital.
Keeping large numbers of older workers unemployed will not do the economy any good in future, Age Concern warns, as the current rate of unemployment beyond the statutory retirement age means the dependency ratio - the number of non-workers to workers - could climb to 3:1 by 2031 unless policy changes are implemented.
The findings will make depressing reading for the government, which is considering raising the state retirement age as a part answer to the country’s pension savings gap - something already happening in many other EU member states.
Pensioners already up in arms over above-inflation local and central government tax increases are unlikely to take kindly to proposals to work longer, when facts on the ground tell them it is all but impossible to obtain new work beyond the age of 50.
Employment discrimination on the grounds of age is not illegal in the UK at present, and will not be so until the government introduces legislation by October 2006, reflecting the full provisions of the EU’s Employment Directive, adopted in 2000.
Besides age, the directive also covers employment discrimination on the basis of disability, religion or belief, and sexual orientation, to supplement existing legislation covering discrimination on the basis of gender, race or ethnic origin.IFAonline
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