Last updated: 30 March 2020
COVID-19 has impacted younger and older people in different ways.
Although most younger people face less health risks from COVID-19 than the general population, they are likely to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s economic fall-out. Brian Findlay’s article One million Britons will be on zero-hour contracts by end of 2020 shares recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which shows that one-third of people on zero-hours contracts were aged between 16 and 24. Although recent proposals from the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer may provide some support to people on zero-hour contracts, it is also likely that many will fall through the cracks due to problems in providing an evidence trail, the length of time in their current role, averaging their salary over a period of time or the likelihood that some will not receive economic support until June 2020.
COVID-19 has also impacted older people. Data from the ONS shows that almost 1 in 12 (8.1%) people in their 70s were working in 2019, and a further 53,000 people aged 80 or over were in some form of employment. This therefore poses questions as to what these workers were expected to do when all people aged 70 and over were deemed high-risk and instructed to remain at home. This grey area, being instructed to self-isolate yet not being sick, has undoubtedly created issues for older employees, many of whom rely on this additional income to supplement their pension.
Other documented inequalities include:
- The closure of nurseries, schools, colleges and universities and the impacts on children and young people.
- Younger people are more likely to live in private-sector rented accommodation and therefore face challenges related to rent payments, obstructive landlords, the ability to work from home and self-isolate in a safe environment.
- Older people are at greater health risk from COVID-19.
- Older people face particular challenges related to loneliness, with over half of those aged 75 and over living alone this situation is likely compounded by the requirement to follow social distancing and not meet with people outside your own household.