One in four Wigan jobless now aged 50 or over

The claimant count has risen since the full roll-out of Universal Credit
The claimant count has risen since the full roll-out of Universal Credit

Nearly one in four jobseekers in Wigan is aged 50 or over, shock new figures reveal.

Think tank International Longevity Centre UK says older unemployed people are hampered by age discrimination and a lack of flexibility from employers.

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In January, 6,925 people were out of work in Wigan, of whom 1,655 were aged 50 or over.

The data only includes people without a job who are claiming benefits linked to unemployment, either Job Seeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit.

The bulk of unemployed people in the area were aged among 25 and 49 years old - 3,930 in total. Just 1,345 were between 16 and 24 years old.

Dr Brian Beach from ILC-UK, which specialises in researching the impact of longevity on society, said few older people benefit from effective support in their job search.

He said: “The key barriers older people face are ageist attitudes and a lack of flexibility in working arrangements. Tackling age discrimination must be the number one priority if we are to enable more people who want to work to find jobs in later life.”

Across the UK, 27 per cent of unemployed benefit claimants were aged 50 or older in January.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Experienced workers are a huge asset to the workforce and there are now 10.4 million over-50s in employment – a record number.

"Through the National Careers Service and personal work coach support at their local Jobcentre Plus, we are supporting older people to get the work they want regardless of their age.”

The number of Wigan people claiming out-of-work benefits rose 31 per cent in the year to January compared with a national increase of 23. The ONS puts this down to Universal Credit roll-out.