‘Britain needs you’, Hunt urges older people to rejoin workforce

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Jeremy Hunt urged older people to return to the workforce on Friday, saying the country needed them and he was looking at ways to make “work worth your while”.

Hunt addressed problems in the labour market in a speech on Friday that sought to set out his plans to tackle the country’s weak productivity levels and boost economic growth.

“We will never harness the full potential of our country unless we unlock it for each and every one of our citizens. Nor will we fix our productivity puzzle unless everyone who can participate does,” he said.

“So to those who retired early after the pandemic or haven’t found the right role after furlough, I say Britain needs you and we will look at the conditions necessary to make work worth your while”.

The British economy is expected to fall into a recession this year, held back by double digit inflation and a tight labour market that has been marked by an exodus of older workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hunt said it was time for a fundamental programme of reforms to also encourage those with long-term conditions or mental illness to overcome barriers and re-enter the workforce.

(Reporting by William Schomberg; writing by Kate Holton and Kylie MacLellan; editing by Michael Holden)