Work and Employment issues are in danger of becoming an older age free zone in the London recovery plans and in the government response to the coming recession.
I work with many older unemployed and workless over 50s and this pandemic has increased the numbers of older people needing to apply for benefits as well as affecting their mental health, feelings of isolation and helplessness. It is already known that with each year over 50 the chances of getting another job is massively reduced.
To add to their concern, the ending of shielding for vulnerable people means that many older people at greater risk, feel they are being forced back to work when there are still insufficient COVID safe workplaces. Without compulsory social distancing and wearing of masks in offices and in schools they are more likely to become infected. They need to know that it will be safe to return and that COVID safety rules are in place and enforced
The majority ( 71%) of older workers were in work before the March lock down and now want to return, but more and more are being laid off and unemployment is likely to rise significantly, leading to poverty for themselves and their families. Younger people ( under 25) have suffered from the rise in unemployment and the likely impact of the end of the furlough scheme, but this has also impacted disproportionately on older working people (50+). At present the focus is only on youth, with an ageist discourse developing that somehow older people are taking jobs from youngsters when during the last crisis it was those firms that continued to employ seniors and trained them to support younger people, who actually employed more younger people in the end.We support measures which will help both younger and older people get back into employment or be supported into self employment, with training both for those with and without work and the offers or apprenticeships.
We need more voices being raised to the LRB and on Talk London around the need for intergenerational support for both young and old. Here is the link: https://www.london.gov.uk/talk-london/communities-regeneration/londons-recovery-starts-you