Research carried out by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), shows that almost 100,000 over 50s are long term unemployed.

IPPR suggest that one of the elements hidden in the official figure is this age discrimination evident during the recession. The risk is that older people who have been out of work for this long stand little chance of ever working again.

It is also clear in the report that there is a disproportionate affect upon women – who are also impacted negatively as a result of being in most of the part-time posts in the country.

Women over 50 therefore have a future not as bright as it should be. In addition, the swingeing public sector cuts will amplify these figurs due to the huge number of women in public sector employment.

At the other end of the age-scale, it also appears that young people are being significantly affected by the recession with a 300% increase of those aged 18 to 24 across the UK who have been jobless for more than two years.

Tony Dolphin, IPPR’s chief economist indicated that the long-term unemployed, particularly those over 50, lose skills and confidence, putting them at risk of being permanently shut out of the jobs market.

He said: “The risk is that older people who have been out of work for this long stand little chance of ever working again. This means many will be forced into early retirement, which will mean a lower standard of living during their old age.

“Previously, this has mostly affected men employed in low value-added manufacturing industries that are in decline as a result of technological change and competition from emerging economies. However, the Government’s cuts in public sector jobs will disproportionately affect women and they too may begin to retire early.

“The longer someone is unemployed, the less likely they are to ever return to work. If we’re going to provide decent services for our ageing population and clear the deficit, we need as many people in work as possible to maximise tax revenues.”

The government response to these statistics was given by employment Minister Chris Grayling, who said:

"This highlights the chronic failure of the welfare system we inherited to actually get people back into work.

"That's why we launched the Work Programme, the largest welfare to work scheme this country has ever seen, to tackle long-term unemployment and provide support, built around individual needs, that will get people into jobs and keep them there. And that's why we have a plan for growth which will encourage businesses to expand and take on more workers."