Pension cash won't solve looming interest-only mortgage crisis

There's an interest-only mortgage crisis ahead, with hundreds of thousands of people having no way to repay their loans when they fall due in the next few years.

And anyone who hopes to resolve the problem by unlocking their retirement cash when the pension rules change next year is likely to be disappointed.

From 2017 an estimated 40,000 interest-only mortgages held by borrowers aged 65 and over will mature every year, reckons Age UK.

But new research published today by the charity reveals a huge gap between what people think they will need in order to repay their mortgage and what they actually may still owe.

Interest-only borrowers believe their average shortfall will be just over £22,000. But the latest estimate by the Financial Conduct Authority shows that nearly half of people with these mortgages will still owe £50,000 – more than twice as much.

The average pension fund is currently worth £36,800, a third less than the average interest-only debt figure. That means those thinking of using their retirement savings to pay off their mortgage will have to think again.

Meanwhile Age UK is worried that older people will be encouraged by lenders to use their pension to cover their outstanding mortgage debt.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK's charity director, said: "Pensions are the nest eggs we build up for later life when our income falls. For many of us, this money is all that we have to supplement the state pension and allow us to live more comfortably.

"It's important that people are not put under pressure to use these savings to settle outstanding mortgage debt if they have other options, such as extending the mortgage."

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