Putting Britain’s jobless over 50s back into work would earn the Exchequer £3 billion a year in tax receipts, Labour’s Liam Byrne has claimed.
The shadow work and pensions secretary is pledging Labour will find ways to help older unemployed people find jobs.
Publishing a party policy review report on social security, he argued there is an army of older workers who have often paid more into the system – sometimes up to £62,000 – than they get out so should be given extra help to find employment.
Mr Byrne is calling for Britain to follow countries like Japan to boost the older workforce, claiming if the UK matched its employment rate for 50 to 64-year-olds it would put nearly half a million more people into work and boost tax receipts by £3 billion a year.
In a speech to the Fabian Society, he said: “Right now, Britain’s workers are producing more but earning less. Social security should offer more for those that chipped in most. Our most experienced workers have earned an extra hand. So let’s make sure it’s there when they need it.
“Compassionate Conservatism is dead. Contemptuous Conservatism has taken its place. The result is striking. Contributory benefits, already small, are set to become a rounding error. Excluding pensions, by the end of this Parliament they will be just 3% of the benefits bill.
“I believe that One Nation doesn’t build itself. It’s built by work. That’s why the duty to work if you can is the first principle of One Nation social security. We’re right to insist on it. But we’re right to support it and we’re right to reward it.”