13 September 2023
The Platinum Pound report finds UK economy loses £6.6 billion a year from drop in later life employment
The Platinum Pound, a new report by cross-party think-tank Demos, supported by Anchor, has revealed the UK economy could unlock £6.6bn a year by returning to pre-pandemic later life workforce levels, by making staying in work more inclusive. The report reveals an additional £1.2bn a year could be unlocked by returning to pre-pandemic rates of later life volunteers.
These figures are revealed amidst the cost-of-living crisis, rising inflation, skills shortages and recruitment and retention challenges across many industries. With a rapidly ageing population and 800,000 older people who want to re-enter the workforce, removing barriers to later life working can futureproof our economy and unlock the potential of our ageing population.
In response Anchor, England’s largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care for people in later life, is encouraging businesses to sign the Age-friendly Employer Pledge to make workplaces more age-inclusive.
The number of UK workers aged 50-64 has fallen by 182,000 since 2019 – equivalent to one sixth of current job vacancies. The Platinum Pound report reveals the UK is an outlier in this regard – the median OECD country saw a 2% increase in later life workforce participation since the pandemic began. Effective policy, that focuses on keeping people in work for longer if they wish to do so, is needed to reverse this decline and address entrenched barriers to age-inclusive workplaces.
Yet the report identifies that hundreds of thousands of older workers are at risk of leaving work due to a lack of flexible working, a lack of support if made redundant, poor workplace experiences, not feeling valued and age discrimination.
Alarmingly, 330,000 retirees stopped working because they couldn’t access flexible working – equivalent to 25% of the vacancies in the UK economy today. Additionally, over 1 million older people have experienced age discrimination at work.
In response to the findings, Anchor is urging businesses to sign the Age-friendly Employer Pledge to make workplaces more inclusive, and is calling on government to remove barriers to working in later life to bolster our economy.
Policy recommendations from the Platinum Pound report include:
- Mandate large public and private sector employers to provide redundancy employment support programmes for employees over 50 years old
- Consult on mandating large public and private sector employers to train managers on how to manage older workers and improve cross-age team working
- A tax-free £1,000 Priority Jobs Bonus – for all workers over 55 working in shortage occupations and earning less than £50,000 a year
Martin Hiles, 76, lives at Anchor’s Hanover Court housing location in Durham. He says:
I’ve passed the age of retirement, but I’ve always enjoyed what I do and I’m not ready to slow down any time soon. But my ability to do a job came into question, due to my age. Older people are reliable and it’s such a shame that many are being immediately ignored once their age comes into it. Often, older people have years of experience and skills that younger colleagues could learn from, but they aren’t given the opportunity to share them. I can’t do anything for my own country and it’s very frustrating.
Sarah Jones, Chief Executive of Anchor, says:
Through the Platinum Pound we have listened to the experiences of thousands of people in later life. The message is simple – our ageing population has incredible potential that is being missed. We must reverse the social and economic impacts of older people being excluded or overlooked to ensure they are supported to remain in work for as long as they choose.
As an Age-friendly Employer, we see first-hand the benefits of later life working and the invaluable skills and experiences older workers bring. We urge more organisations to sign the Age-friendly Employer Pledge. Government must listen to the report’s findings and take action to empower our ageing population, unlocking both their potential and economic benefits.
The report also reveals that, by meeting the same levels of later life workforce participation as countries such as Australia, £9.6 billion a year could be unlocked. By meeting the same levels of participation as countries such as Germany, over £30 billion a year could be unlocked. Before the pandemic, the UK’s later life workforce participation rates were higher than Australia, and in 2008, the UK’s rates were higher than those in Germany.
Andrew O’Brien, Director of Policy and Impact at Demos, says:
The UK is facing severe labour shortages and slow economic growth. One of the ways we can tackle these twin challenges is through helping older people to stay in work. Billions could be added to the UK economy if we can get this right. The government needs to send a clear signal to businesses and society that we value the work of older people.
Sandy Strover, 55, has been working as a Location Manager at Anchor since 2019 and currently operates across 30 properties in the Swindon area. Sandy has had many different roles throughout her professional life, including being a nurse and a self-employed property manager, and says she has experienced ageism in a previous role.
People in later life have a lot to give to a workplace, and a lot of crucial knowledge! A lot of companies may just look for younger people, but I don’t necessarily believe that’s what’s best.
Sandy was originally contracted to work for Anchor for six months and had hoped to gain some IT skills from the position. However, once she started, she found that the opportunities and support available was much more than she could have hoped for.
I had a great team and felt truly welcomed which made all the difference to me. When I got stressed, I reached out and the help was overwhelming and unbelievable.
Sandy would like to see the government introduce new policies to tackle ageism in the workplace and help people to keep working in later life if they want to, and for businesses to promote a working environment that attracts and retains older workers.
Regardless of my age, I learn something new with Anchor every day. Having negative pre-conceived perceptions around older people in the workforce is where it all goes wrong, we should be able to all learn from each other.
Read more about Anchor
The Platinum Pound
We're urging businesses across the country to sign the Age-friendly Employer Pledge to make workplaces more age-inclusive and calling on government to remove barriers to working in later life.
Anchor signs up to Age-friendly Employer Pledge
Anchor, England’s largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care for people in later life has signed up to the Age-friendly Employer Pledge.
Anchor awarded ‘Gold Status’ by Inclusive Employers
Anchor has been awarded ‘Gold Status’ in the 2023 Inclusive Employers Standard, becoming the first housing and care provider to do so.
Anchor achieves Menopause Friendly Accreditation
Anchor has achieved the Menopause Friendly Accreditation from Menopause in the Workplace.