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Older Tower Hamlets council staff taking brunt of recession in job cuts

PUBLISHED: 21:08 20 March 2013 | UPDATED: 16:03 21 March 2013

Tower Hamlets Town Hall

Tower Hamlets Town Hall

Archant

Older workers are bearing the brunt of the economic crisis in Town Hall redundancies and job recruitment, new research has found.

More than four-out-of-10 redundancies at Tower Hamlets alone are among the over-50s, according to east London’s non-profit Wise Owls support agency.

But the council insists most are voluntary, often by staff wanting to take early retirement.

The average across London of older workers being shown the door by local authorities is far higher at 60 per cent, compared to just 37 per cent in 2008 when the economic crisis began, according to Freedom of Information statistics rated by age.

“Older workers and particularly women are being targeted for redundancy by local authorities,” claimed agency director Chris Walsh. “This is leading to a massive rise in experienced, older people now out of work.”

The research published ahead of yesterday’s Budget was carried out as part of an ‘Age Diversity’ campaign aimed at the over-50s getting a fair share in the jobs market.

But things are getting better in the East End compared to 2010, when Tower Hamlets was as high as 6th in a league table of “the most ageist authorities,” the agency points out—it is now down to 18th place.

The council insists “95 per cent of redundancies have been voluntary.”

The proportion of those over 50 leaving council employment fell from 62 per cent in 2006 to 37.5 last year, it maintains.

A Town Hall spokesman said: “Some staff take the opportunity to travel or to retire. Our policy of inviting people to volunteer means a very small number of compulsory redundancies.”

The government is now being pressed by campaigners to “take age equality seriously” and include an ‘age’ audit in local government to prevent the over-50s being targeted for job cuts.

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