Not enough is being done by Diss Jobcentre to support those who are over 50 and unemployed, according to one jobseeker who has been out of work for nearly a year.
The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, says despite applying for at least one job a day during that time, he has only had one telephone interview for potential employment, and has taken on a voluntary role to “keep him sane”.
He told the Diss Express: “It’s not as if I am thinking ‘I’m going to sit on my backside and not do anything’.”
He wrote a letter to South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, after listening to a radio show discussing what Jobcentres should be offering to assist those in his age bracket. Mr Bacon subsequently wrote to the Minister of State for Employment, Esther McVey MP.
In her response, she said examples of local approaches being used in some districts included customer focus groups, local workshops and groups for over 50s targeting specific needs, including CVs, job applications, interviews, or moving into self employment, and work clubs.
He says schemes to aid this age bracket were not being pushed pro-actively by Diss Jobcentre, adding: “You go there, and they more or less don’t tell you about the schemes unless you find out for yourself. But they are all prepared to give you a heavy going over.”
The man, who said he knew of other people facing a similar situation, added his experience with the Jobcentre has been less than pleasant.
“You feel looked down upon at times,” he explained. “I don’t want to go in there. I have been applying for jobs which are only four hours a week. I just need to keep busy.”
“They (potential employers) think you are too old, but I don’t think people appreciate the knowledge you have got.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Every day, Jobcentre staff are successfully helping people off benefits and into work so they can secure their future, and the number of over-50s claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in South Norfolk has fallen by a third in the last year alone. This is amid record levels of employment across the country.
“All claimants have a dedicated Jobcentre Plus work coach, who can provide them with individual and personalised support, regardless of their age, and we work with local partners to give people the tailored support they need.”
The government also announced plans in December to roll out an ‘older workers’ champion scheme across the UK, set for April. It includes a ‘career review’, and digital support to link jobseekers with businesses which have vacancies to fill. More than 1.2 million over-50s nationally are unemployed, according to government figures.