Elderly struggle with debt, says report

Lumbered with mortgages, loans and credit cards, today's pensioners are struggling against a mountain of personal debt, according to a report published today.

Lumbered with mortgages, loans and credit cards, today's pensioners are struggling against a mountain of personal debt, according to a report published today .

Research by the insurer Scottish Widows shows that elderly people in Britain collectively owe £57 billion on mortgages, credit cards and loans.

One in five retired homeowners still has an outstanding mortgage on their property, owing an average of £38,000 each, while one in eight owe more than £50,000.

At the same time the research found that almost one in three pensioners aged over 65 has racked up debt averaging £5,900 on credit cards and loans.

Last night a leading voice for Norfolk's pensioners said she feared that the cost of providing for their own care was adding to the financial burden of the elderly.

Edith Pocock, secretary of Norfolk and Norwich Pensioners' Association, said: “Because house prices have risen so much over the years I cannot understand why elderly people would need to take out mortgages on their own homes,” she said.

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“This must be related to equity release schemes. I am sure older people are drawing on their capital to stop the government taking it when they need care. If the government would stop charging old people for care I think this would disappear.” She added: “If this is the case the picture appears to be bleak and I think we should investigate it further.”

The study also found that retired people's incomes are also coming under strain from dependent children, with 8pc of over-65s saying they were still supporting their children financially, although nearly two thirds of these offspring are aged over 18 and 16pc are over 35.

Ian Naismith, head of pensions market development at Scottish Widows, said: “Our research shows that by the time they come to retire a significant number of pensioners still have a mortgage outstanding on their property, adding financial pressure to their hard-earned retirement fund.”

The situation of pensioners still having to repay debt once they have retired looks set to continue, with 42pc of people aged between 50 and 59 still owing an average of £54,300 on their mortgage, while one in four people aged between 60 and 64 have an outstanding mortgage debt of £42,800.

Mr Naismith said: “It is important for those people who will be reaching retirement in the next few years who still have debt outstanding on their mortgage to consider how best to prepare themselves for the eventuality of having to juggle their debts on a reduced income when they stop working.”

The research found that the average household income for retired people is £22,900.

Kate Jopling, head of public affairs at Help the Aged, said: “With one in five retired homeowners still paying a mortgage and one in five pensioners living in poverty, the future looks pretty bleak for today's pensioners. When people don't have work to fall back on, financial worries can be incredibly stressful and have a ripple effect on older people's general health and wellbeing.

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