Published On: Sun, Jun 28th, 2020

Universal Credit claims by over 50s soar – Boris told ‘wake up’ as state pension age rises | Personal Finance | Finance

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The number of Universal Credit claims made by people who are aged over 50 has more than doubled in May compared to March this year. The claims among this age group has risen from 304,000 to nearly 660,000 in just two months, according to new analysis of provisional data from the Office of National Statistics by Rest Less.

The number of Universal Credit claims in May represent approximately six percent of over 50s who are considered economically active (either in work or actively looking for work).

Rest Less – a jobs, money and lifestyle site for the over 50s – says the rise of those claiming Universal Credit in this demographic is of particular concern, as it highlights the number of over 50s who have less than £16,000 in savings – thus meeting the eligibility criteria for Universal Credit.

Previous research from Rest Less, prior to the pandemic, highlighted that people over the age of 50 were already more likely to be in long term unemployment, compared to their younger counterparts.

Meanwhile, analysis of Insolvency Data found an alarming increase in female insolvencies over the age of 65.

READ MORE: Are changes ahead? Inheritance Tax was raised to 80% to ‘help tackle public debt’

Rest Less says this sharp increase in older Universal Credit claimants shows how many over 50s are now struggling financially.

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, said: “Sadly, this is only the tip of the iceberg as many of those unemployed in their 50s will not be eligible to claim Universal Credit.

“The surge in older claimants highlights the extremely precarious financial situation that many of this demographic find themselves in today.

“With eligibility criteria requiring less than £16,000 of savings to qualify, this highlights how little of a financial buffer people have been able to save, despite many having worked hard for more than three decades already.


“Prior to the pandemic, we already knew that older workers were more likely to be in long term unemployment, were less likely to receive workplace training than their younger counterparts and were extremely likely to face age discrimination in the recruitment process.”

And, with the state pension age currently changing, it’s been suggested that there is even more need to support those struggling in this age group.

Mr Lewis continued: “In a year when the state pension age increases to 66, and with more over 50s claiming Universal Credit than those under 25, this is a wake up call for Government policy which in the wake of the current unemployment crisis, MUST lay out more support for getting the over 50s back into work – to help them retrain, reskill and be welcomed back into the workplace post-pandemic.

“Without significant training and workplace support, the fear is of a lost generation of highly talented, older workers forced permanently into a miserable and unaffordable early retirement.

Since then, the state pension age has been rising for both men and women, with it set to reach 66 in October 2020 ahead of further changes.

Who can claim Universal Credit?

A person may be able to get Universal Credit if:

  • They’re on a low income or out of work
  • They’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
  • They’re under state pension age (or their partner is)
  • They and their partner have £16,000 or less in savings between them
  • They live in the UK.

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