Retirement is no holiday from a lifetime of debt


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The Independent Online

There’s no escape from debt in retirement, according to new statistics published today.

The Consumer Credit Counselling Service, a debt charity, said the demand for advice from people over 60 has increased by 15 per cent in the past three years, and the charity warns that this is the beginning of a long-term trend.

Chairman of the CCCS, Lord Stevenson, said: “Currently we counselmore 30-44 year olds than any other group but we think that in two years’ time, almost half the people in need of our help will be over 45.”

Lord Stevenson added: “Around 12 per cent of our clients aged over 55 have at least 30 per cent of their incomes tied up in debt repayments. “Work carried out for us last year by the Financial Inclusion Centre showed that there is a persistent minority of olderpeople trapped with extreme debt. It would appear that this minority is growing rapidly.”

Pensioners are still trying to clear debts they built up earlier in their lives. But they are also affected by a faster pace of inflation than the rest of the population. The latest Silver Retail Prices Index, compiled by the charity AgeUK to measure the cost of living for the over-55s, showed an 18 per cent rise in the price of goods for older Britons since 2008, five per cent higher than the general population. The cost of petrol was a significant burden. Meanwhile, research published last week by the insurer LV suggested the average UK pensioner is spending up to £88.55 a week more than the average state pension of £102.15.

A significant proportion of the increase in the cost of living can be put down to rising utility bills. Pensioners spend an average of £918 a year on gas, electricity and water bills. The second biggest spending is on recreation and culture, with pensioners spending an average of £1,337 a year.

The CCCS was contacted by almost 370,000 people struggling with debt problems last year, according to its annual report, which is published today.

On average, those struggling owed more than £20,000 each and had monthly living costs of £1,369.

“We need to do more to help those in our society who need debt advice and solutions,” said Lord Stevenson

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