Over 60’s Facing Debt Crisis.

May 13, 2013

Luke-Notley small (Custom)A growing number of older people are experiencing debt problems, according to one of Britain’s largest debt charities, StepChange.

According to StepChange, last year, 13,148 people aged 60 and over contacted the organisation seeking help, a 36 per cent increase since 2009 when 9,628 people in that age group sought its help.

It found that pensioners typically have larger debts than any other age group, owing on average £23,000, while the typical debts of the rest of those contacting the charity are around £17,650.

Most of the debt had been accrued on credit cards, with the average pensioner having an average balanced owed of £15,152 compared to £10,006 for all age groups. Furthermore, pensioners were found to also owe more on catalogue debt (an average of £2,000), overdrafts and store cards.

It was found that pensioners owe less than average on payday loans and personal loans, but StepChange warned that this kind of debt was a growing issue for the elderly, with average payday loan debt increasing £100 in 2012 compared to the previous year.

Delroy Corinaldi, a director at StepChange Debt Charity, said of the figures: “The rise in the number of older people seeking help from the charity, along with their higher than average debt levels, is very worrying.

“Whatever someone’s income level during their working years, most would expect to be in a stable, if not comfortable, financial situation when they are older.

“Unfortunately those in this age group who are struggling with debt are particularly vulnerable as their earning potential has diminished.

“It is therefore crucial that they do not suffer alone and are given the help and support they need to deal with their financial situation.”

According to Neil Duncan-Jordan from the National Pensioners Convention, “People just don’t have the income to be able to sustain their lifestyle.

“The number of old people going to food banks is increasing. The number going for debt advice is increasing. The number of people really really struggling, usually in silence, is increasing.”

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show more than 300,000 people aged 70 and above still have a job, with many saying they are too poor to stop working.

The charity Age UK has launched a campaign to encourage older people to claim all the state benefits they are entitled to.

According to Age UK over four million pensioners are entitled to pension credit, but a third of those who are eligible don’t claim it. If all those who are entitled to Pension Credit put in a claim, it could boost their income by an average of £1,716 a year.

Age UK’s Charity Director Michelle Mitchell commented: “At a time when so many people are struggling financially, it is a huge concern that vital benefits are failing to reach some of the poorest and most vulnerable older people in our society. This is money that could make a real difference to their quality of life.”