16 Jun 2020
We're calling for tailored job-seekers support for the over 50s, and a commitment from the government to improving the nation’s health.
The Centre for Ageing Better has warned that the COVID-19 crisis could lead to a generation of people in their 50s and 60s entering retirement in poor health and without enough money to support themselves.
According to new data, a fifth of people in this age group have seen their physical health deteriorate during the lockdown period, and over a third say their mental health has worsened. Over half have had a medical or dental appointment delayed or cancelled, prompting fears that untreated conditions could set back the health of this generation irreparably. Of this age group, 37% have been drinking more alcohol during lockdown, and 39% have been smoking more.
These new figures also raise concerns that the impact of lockdown could seriously damage this generation’s financial future. Almost half believe that their personal finances will worsen over the next year, and only 39% of those who are currently furloughed or of working age but not in employment are confident that they will be employed in the future.
The Centre for Ageing Better warns that without action, the impact of lockdown risks creating a ‘lost generation’ of pensioners in poor health and financially insecure. We are calling on the government to make sure this generation is not left behind in the recovery and to provide tailored job-seekers support for older workers. This will be essential to protect the financial wellbeing of this age group, who struggle more than any other group to get back into work, and will contribute to the UK’s economic recovery.
Ageing Better has also warned that government efforts to improve the nation’s health must be redoubled to avoid vital progress being lost. With health inequalities already on the rise, they say that without action these inequalities risk becoming entrenched within this generation of retirees. The new figures show that the unemployed and those who anticipate their finances worsening over the next year are more likely to have seen their health deteriorate over the lockdown period. The Centre for Ageing Better is calling on the government to take decisive action to improve health and close the gap in disability-free life expectancy between the richest and poorest.
“These figures are deeply worrying. If this generation continues to be an afterthought in the coronavirus recovery, we will see a lost generation entering retirement in poorer health and worse financial circumstances than those before them.
“We know that the over 50s already face serious disadvantages in the workforce, are more likely to be made redundant and struggle more than any other group to get back into work once they have fallen out. And yet this group are being ignored when it comes to proposed actions to support the recovery.
“At the same time, it’s clear that this group also face serious risks to their health. More than one in five have seen their health deteriorate during lockdown. We need to see much stronger action to improve the health of the population and tackle the causes of preventable illness and disability, especially in poorer areas.”
“This new survey shows how older people have suffered during the COVID19 crisis – and are likely to suffer afterwards as older workers may – as in 2008 – be more likely to be laid off in the looming recession, and find it harder to get new jobs. It is not just new entrants to the jobs market who will suffer, but also older workers.”