Suzanne Dunne, 62, is moving from her family home of 20 years in West Sussex, in a bid to find better work prospects. “I’m moving really because I can’t afford the bedroom tax,” she says. “And also I can’t get a job where I am in Bracklesham.” Suzanne has been unemployed since 2016, and explains that in the area, job vacancies tend to either be seasonal or unsuitable for her, as she suffers with arthritis. In her early career, Suzanne worked as a hairdresser – going onto manage a number of hair and beauty salons.
After having her son in her 30s, Suzanne retrained in childcare – achieving GCSEs or equivalents and later a degree in English.
A qualified teaching assistant, she started working in schools.
But, she says she’s struggled to find work, telling Express.co.uk: “I can’t get work in that area because most of the mums [of children at the school] have those jobs.”
In the past, she’s worked in management at bar and restaurants at a holiday camp, but with long hours and arthritis in her hips and thumbs, it was difficult to manage.
“And so for the last couple of years I’m just looking and doing whatever courses the Jobcentre send me on and doing whatever they tell me to do, but I just cannot find work down here,” she says.
According to a new analysis from Rest Less, based on the latest data from the Office of National Statistics Labour Force survey (May-July 2019), those aged between 50-64 are more likely (33 per cent) than the under 50s to remain unemployed for more than two years.
Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, comments on the data: “There are nearly 60,000 50-64 year olds who have been out of work for more than two years but this doesn’t take into account the many more who simply stop looking when they can’t find work and therefore drop out of the unemployment numbers.
“Unless more support is provided, we risk the creation of a ‘forgotten generation’ who can’t find work and simply stop looking – withdrawing from the labour market and often suffering from loneliness and isolation as a result.”
Suzanne thinks age has played a part in her struggle to get a job.
“I’ve actually applied for jobs and then I’ve gone back into that particular place after I’ve not got the job, and seen that it’s all full of just young people,” she says.
“It keeps me awake at night if I do anything too much.
“I’m kind of in a bit of a mess really – especially trying to live on £317 per month, because I have to do gas, electric, phones, water, food, travel, I mean if it wasn’t for my son I wouldn’t be eating.”
Suzanne says she sometimes has to choose between paying for heating or food.
“It’s not just young families that are in that position or pensioners.
“It’s people like me on Universal Credit, we’re having to pay everything. I even have to pay some towards my rent.”
Suzanne’s move will mean she no longer has to pay £6.50 for bus journeys into her local town.
“It’s going to be a smaller place so it’s cheaper to run so I’ll hopefully be able to manage it better, but it will save me bus fares.”
At the age of 62, Suzanne is expecting to reach state pension age at 66, and due to the changes to the state pension age for women, she is yet to be able to get free bus travel.
She says: “Now, I can’t even get a free bus pass, which would have been a great help. So it’s really messed me up the way they changed it.”
Suzanne fears being affected by future changes.
“If they change it again I just I don’t know what I’d do. I don’t think I could survive any longer than that.
It’s really hard going. I had hoped to carry on working but at my choice, and hours that suit me.
“I don’t want to have continue working almost full-time until I’m nearly 70. So if they change it again, I can’t bear to think about it.”