Finding a new job in your 50s and 60s is hard

...but help is at hand, says Paul Lewis

Woman looking upset on couch

If you’re over 50 and have been looking for work, you will not need to be told that finding a job in your 50s or 60s can be very difficult.  The number of people aged 50 to 65 claiming Universal Credit has more than doubled since the pandemic began, and seven out of ten of those are out of work – higher than younger age groups.  The problem particularly affects women – many of whom expected to get their state pension at 60, not the current state pension age of 66.

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If you are made redundant you will get redundancy pay as long as you’ve worked with that firm for at least two years. Check yours is the right amount at acas.org.uk. Up to £30,000 is tax-free, and you’ll probably be entitled to a refund of some of the income tax you have paid in the current tax year – search gov.uk for “tax refund”.

If you’re under 66, you can claim means-tested Universal Credit (UC) of £411.51 a month (for singles) and £596.58 (for couples).  Those rates include an increase of £86.67 due to the pandemic, but in October they’re scheduled to be cut back to their previous levels again. If you’re disabled or a carer you may get more. But if your capital – including savings, investments, or a property you do not live in – exceeds £6,000 your UC will be reduced, and if it exceeds £16,000 you cannot get UC. (If you live with someone as a couple, your income and savings will be counted together.) UC is not paid for the first five weeks of eligibility, but you can borrow from your future UC and pay that back over the next year.

You may also get help with council tax from the local council.  At 66 you can get state pension. If that is less than the full amount of £179.60
a week you may be able to top it up with pension credit. You will also get more help with your rent or council tax than those aged under 66 get. Check all your benefit entitlements at www.turn2us.org.uk.

Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4. To ask Paul a question please email paul.lewis@radiotimes.com, he will endeavour to answer through his column in Radio Times

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