Belfast Telegraph

Big rise in number of pensioners going bust

Pensioners are seeing the biggest rise in bankruptcy levels in the UK, the Insolvency Service said.

The number of people aged over 65 who are going bankrupt has soared six-fold during the past decade, and is increasing 50% quicker than any other age group.

The rise is particularly acute among female pensioners, with 10 times more women aged over 65 declared bankrupt in 2009, compared with 2000.

But despite the sharp increase in bankruptcies among pensioners, the number of over 65s unable to keep up with their debts is still lower than among other age groups.

The average age of someone going bankrupt in the UK is 41, with men accounting for 60% of all cases, although the proportion of women has soared from just 29% in 2000 to 40% in 2009.

And number of people going bankrupt in Northern Ireland has more than trebled over the past decade, it emerged last week. A total of 1,250 people declared themselves bankrupt this year compared to 331 in 2001, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment said.

But UK-wide, levels of personal insolvency are beginning to decline after increasing since 2000 and hitting a record high in 2009, although they still remain at elevated levels.

The Insolvency Service is running a week-long Dealing with Debt campaign to encourage people to deal with their money problems by letting them know where they can get free advice and helping them understand the options that are available to them if their debt is unmanageable.

The campaign is being supported by money advice groups Citizens Advice, the Consumer Credit Counselling Service and the Money Advice Trust.

Stephen Speed, chief executive of the Insolvency Service, said: "Although personal insolvency levels are no longer rising, they remain stubbornly high, reflecting the high levels of personal debt that persist across the country.

"Prevention is much better than cure as far as personal finances are concerned. Review your personal finances frequently and make sure you are not taking on debt that you can't afford to repay."