Nearly one in four job-seekers in Burnley are aged 50 or over according to new ONS data, with a national think-tank saying older unemployed people are hampered by age discrimination and a lack of flexibility from employers.
In January, 2,735 people were out of work in Burnley, of whom 640 were aged 50 or over, with the bulk of unemployed people in the area aged between 25 and 49 years old - 1,505 in total - while just 590 were between 16 and 24 years old.
The data - which only includes people without a job who are claiming benefits linked to unemployment, either Job Seeker's Allowance, or Universal Credit - has led Dr Brian Beach, a senior research fellow at International Longevity Centre UK which specialises in researching the impact of longevity on society, to assert that few older people benefit from effective support in their job search.
"The key barriers older people face are ageist attitudes and a lack of flexibility in working arrangements," said Dr Beach. "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% of unemployed benefit claimants were aged 50 or older in January 2019, making up some 270,000 people. A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: "Experienced workers are a huge asset to the workforce and there are now 10.4 million over 50-s 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," they added. "In addition, our Fuller Working Lives strategy is encouraging employers to recruit, re-train and retain older workers".
In Burnley, the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits rose by 17% in the year to January 2019 compared with a national increase of 23% with the ONS putting this rise down to the Universal Credit roll-out process.
A spokesman said: "Under Universal Credit, a broader span of claimants are required to look for work than under Jobseeker's Allowance. As Universal Credit full service is rolled out in particular areas, the number of people recorded as being on the claimant count is therefore likely to rise."