The number of people aged 50-64 in the UK who are unable to, or deterred from returning to work because of long term ill health has risen sharply since the start of the pandemic. That is a key finding in a new analysis by Rest Less, a digital community and advocate for the over 50s. After rising by 19% since early autumn, 2019, the group represents half of all those who are economically inactive due to lasting sickness, or disability. Over 65s not working for the same reasons are up ben an even larger figure (24%) – but they represent a far smaller proportion of the total (9%). Rest Less chief executive Stuart Lewis noted that of the 2.8 million people out of work due to long term sickness, nearly 60% were over 50. “Not only is this a national health issue with thousands of people suffering silently, but it’s increasingly an economic issue too – not least because many of these people want to work in some capacity, if the right opportunities were available to them.”