Belfast Telegraph

Older people face fight to win the war on debt

Nearly a third of older people are in debt, with 15% worrying that they will never be able to repay what they owe, a survey has suggested.

Around 30% of the over-55s have some form of unsecured debt that they are struggling to clear, and 21% are still repaying their mortgage, according to insurer Aviva.

One in four people admitted that they did not think they would be able to repay all of their debts until they were at least 75, and 15% never expect to get out of the red.

Among those who had unsecured borrowings, 30% owed money on a credit card, with average outstanding balances of around £3,300, while 13% had a loan, on which they owed nearly £6,000, and 10% were overdrawn, with the typical person more than £2,200 in the red.

A further 6% of the over 55s owed money on a store card and 4% were buying something through a higher purchase scheme.

Worryingly, those aged over 75 were the most likely to have run up credit card debts that they were struggling to pay off at 35%.

Nearly a third of people blamed their debt on the rising cost of living, with 29% saying they had needed to borrow money to cover an essential purchase, while 18% said they had run up debts after becoming unemployed or not being able to work as much as they had wanted.

But one in five people said they had got into debt meeting family obligations, with 5% saying they had borrowed cash themselves to help their children out financially and 4% had used the money to fund a major family event such as a wedding or university fees.

However, 13% of people admitted their situation was their own fault, after they had overspent on non-essential items, such as holidays, and 10% said they had not managed their money well.

Around 23% of people aged over 75 also said retirement had cost more than they had expected.

Clive Bolton, 'at retirement' director at Aviva, said: "Pressure on retirement income is rising. While there isn't one single cause for people's money worries, the combination of economic and social factors over the last year has impacted on many individuals' plans for their retirement years.

"We know from previous reports that many people are looking to work into retirement, and for people in debt this may be a good solution."

The research also found that average incomes for the over 55s had fallen by 4% to £1,236 during the past year, with 20% of people struggling on less than £750 a month, while 30% had less than £500 in savings to fall back on.

:: Wriglesworth Research questioned 5,700 people aged over 55 between February 2010 and February 2011.