Labour Research April 2002

Features: Equality

Report reveals extent and costs of age discrimination

One in four people believes that employers are not interested in employing people once they reach 40, according to a report by Help the Aged which reveals the extent of age discrimination in all areas of public policy.

Half of a sample of 500 companies had fewer than 10% of employees aged 50 or over, and one in 10 had no employees over 50. However, two-thirds of these companies claimed to have age-friendly policies.

Unemployment among older people has a dramatic impact on physical and mental health. It is estimated that it costs the government £5 billion in benefits to those who might be working and that the cost of age discrimination to the economy is £31 billion in lost production.

The report also highlights the discrimination faced by older people in education, health care, social care and transport.

Last month the government completed its consultation on plans to outlaw age discrimination in employment, due to be implemented by 2006. However, Help the Aged wants to see the legislation brought forward and extended to cover goods, services and facilities.