A new £2 million three-year partnership has been set up between the Prince of Wales' charity Prime (The Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise) and the Bank of America Charitable Foundation tolhelp the older unemployed get back into business. Start-ups will be offered encouragement, mentoring and investment under the scheme, which is supported by the Government.
Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said: "There is no age limit on entrepreneurial spirit. During the current economic climate it is even more vital that older people have the confidence to make their business ideas a reality."
Research carried out by the bank on behalf of Prime found 16% of those aged 55 to 64 have considered, but not realised, their ambition of establishing their own business. Some 53% of over 50s feel they are at a disadvantage to younger people in the job market. And 81% say it is the attitude of employers to age that puts them at this disadvantage
The survey of 1,000 adults, including 472 over 50s, also found 54% of older people looking for work think the credit crunch will dent their employment prospects.
The charity said there are 3.6 million unemployed UK people aged 50-65, with the over 50s suffering the highest long-term unemployment rate.
Businesses launched by people over 50 now account for 15% of all start-ups in England and Wales. And whereas companies started by older people have a 70% chance of surviving the first five years, companies started by younger people have just a 28% survival rate.
According to Prime, if 1% of out of work over 50s became self-employed, 25,000 jobs would be created and £175 million would be saved in benefit payments.