Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Get on your bike and deliver takeaways to earn extra cash, minister tells over 50s

Work and pensions secretary Mel Stride suggests cash-strapped Brits could turn to flexible working at firms such as Deliveroo

Martina Bet
Thursday 03 August 2023 09:51 BST
Related video: Tory MP answers whether mothers should be prosecuted for shoplifting baby formula

Over-50s looking for work should consider delivering takeaways and other flexible jobs typically occupied by younger people, the work and pensions secretary has said.

Mel Stride’s comments came during a visit to the London headquarters of food delivery firm Deliveroo, which has recorded a 62 per cent increase in riders aged over 50 since 2021.

In an interview with The Times during his visit to the food delivery company, Mr Stride was asked if the over-50s should apply for jobs traditionally seen as being for younger people.

He said: “There are loads of great opportunities out there for people and it’s of course good for people to consider options they might not have otherwise thought of.”

Mr Stride said of firms like Deliveroo: “What we’re seeing here is the ability to log on and off any time you like, no requirement to have to do a certain number of hours over a certain period of time, which is driving huge opportunities…

“From an employer’s point of view in a tight labour market, it’s absolutely essential if you want to access all the available talent that you provide as flexible an offer as you can.”

His comments echo former Tory minister Lord Tebbit – who became known for telling unemployed people to get 'on your bike' and find work.

The then Education Secretary gave a speech in the 1980s describing how his out of work father went out looking for work on his bike and didn't stop until he found it. He was dubbed 'Onyerbike' for some time afterwards.

Mr Stride has in the past spoken about how flexible working is “the way forward” and not “just for the over-50s but often for those who have disabilities”.

On the recently introduced digital “Mid-life MOTs”, which are designed to help older workers with financial planning, health guidance and career skills, Mr Stride told the newspaper: “You really do need to sensibly stop, take where you are in life, and assess whether for example you’ve got enough money to get you through with the kind of lifestyle and living standards that you’re expecting.

“We tend to think everything is going to continue roughly as it is and you’ll always be able to find a job later on in life. I think it’s always valuable just to take stock every now and again and have a look at that.”

According to the cabinet minister, the responsibility of creating an inclusive work environment for older employees should fall on employers.

Of course, as we know in politics, nothing is certain, so who knows where I’ll be in many years’ time

Mel Stride

He said: “I think most people find it deeply unattractive to go and work for an employer that’s all about politics and all of that kind of stuff.

“It has to be a sensible balance, and I think older people have generally had enough life experience to roll with those kinds of things anyway.”

As for his own career plans, Mr Stride, 61, expressed his commitment to serving in his current role and said he has no intention of retiring early.

He said: “I’m very happy doing what I’m doing at the moment.

“Of course, as we know in politics, nothing is certain, so who knows where I’ll be in many years’ time — but I very much hope and aspire to be continuing to do this job, because it’s the greatest job in the world.”

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in