Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green said older people and those with disabilities could be utilised to fill jobs with the Government hoping to implement tougher controls on immigration.
He said there were “millions” of people who could potentially enter the workforce.
The MP for Ashford told Sky News: “There are large numbers of people – British citizens – who are what’s called ‘inactive’. They’re not unemployed, they’re just not involved in work at all.
“Many of them are older workers over the age of 50. Many of them are one of the millions of people we have who are disabled – most of whom want to work.
Damian Green said "inactive" over 50s could go back into work
There are large numbers of people – British citizens – who are what’s called 'inactive'
“One of the things we’re not that great at yet is getting disabled people jobs, so we want a lot more of them to work, we’re making some progress on that but we need to make a lot more progress and there are millions of people in those two categories alone.”
The comments come after official figures revealed Britain’s rate of unemployment has not been lower since the summer of 1975.
Mr Green continued to make the case for disabled people to enter the workforce during the Facebook Live broadcast.
He said: “They have become inactive but a lot of them for instance and we talk about disabled people and traditionally people think of maybe people in wheelchairs or people who are blind or deaf.
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Damian Green spoke up the idea of putting some people with mental health conditions into work
“But the biggest increase in the number of disabled people are people who have mental health conditions, which often are occasional and sporadic.
“And which in particular are helped by being at work. Actually being out of work, being inactive, being stuck at home with nothing to do is bad for mental health, so they provide good workers.”
The comments come as Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed in the three months to February this year, the unemployment rate was 4.7 per cent, down from 5.1 per cent a year earlier.
The figures published this morning revealed the jobless total was cut by 45,000 in the three months to February to 1.56 million, a reduction of 141,000 since a year ago and the lowest since the end of 2006.
The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 74.6 per cent, the joint highest since records began in 1971.