Elderly Londoners have the worst prospects as capital shuns oldies: Diversity

Employers in London have been urged to address age diversity after a survey revealed that the capital is the worst place in England for jobseekers over 50 years of age.

The report by the London Assembly’s Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee said inner London had the highest rate of unemployment among people over 50 in the whole of the country – twice the national average.

While employment levels among the over-50s have increased over the last decade, real concerns remain about access to the labour market for this age group, the report said.

The London Development Agency (LDA) – the capital’s agency for business and jobs – estimates that there are about 107,000 over-50s not in employment but wanting work. But the charity Age Concern said the figure was probably nearer 250,000.

The committee said that while it welcomed government plans to outlaw age discrimination later this year, more must be done to support older Londoners. It expressed concern that adult education policies were overly focused on young people.

The report called on public sector bodies in London to lead the way in promoting access to the labour market for older workers. But it was critical of the performance of the LDA. Official figures for 2005 show that only 8% of the 350 staff employed by the LDA were in the 50-59 age range. The committee called on the Greater London Authority (GLA) to review the LDA’s recruitment and retention practices to ensure it complies with its policy on age discrimination.

An LDA spokesman said: “We are working closely with the GLA in support of the mayor’s draft older people’s strategy. We are also continuing to invest in projects to overcome barriers to employment for minority groups, including older people.”

Static redundancy pay

The Employers Forum on Age (EFA) has criticised the government for failing to change the statutory redundancy pay scheme, which gives people over the age of 40 higher rates of compensation.

After last week’s DTI announcement that the age banding would remain, Sam Mercer, director of the EFA, said: “Is it right that two people, with 15 years’ service each, should get different rates because one is 39 and the other 42?

“When the government first signalled its intention to remove age-based compensation in 2002, employers were ready to redesign their redundancy schemes to remove the built-in age bias. An opportunity has been missed. Schemes will now be challenged as ‘ageist’.”

The age regulations are due to be laid before Parliament this week.

For a Q&A on age discrimination and redundancy, go to www.personneltoday.com/33111.article

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