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Over 60s worst hit by overdraft debt

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The over 60s are saddled with the highest levels of overdraft debt, according to research from the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS).

The debt charity found overdraft borrowing for this age group was £2,397 on average compared to the average debt of a CCCS client at £2,082.

Una Farrell a spokesperson at CCCS said: “It’s not something they’ve decided to do; it’s more they’ve fallen into it.”

The research concluded overdraft levels are higher and growing faster as people age. Debt was lower among 25 to 40-year-olds who had £1,824 on average and 41 to 59-year-olds with £2,345 on average.

Debt for over 60s had also increased by £597 since 2007 while the numbers seeking help from the charity had risen from 4,362 in 2007 to 6,950 in 2011.

Farrell said older people are more likely to use an overdraft as retirement incomes are squeezed by economic pressures.

She added: “It’s not like deciding to spend money on your credit card for a handbag or shoes. An overdraft is [used] if you come to the end of the month, you’re struggling and you need food for groceries.

“People over the age of 60 are often on a fixed or very tight budget. They’re more likely to dip into it. And they’re more likely to be cautious with credit. It’s not something they’ve decided to do; it’s more they’ve fallen into it.”

Nick Flynn, director of The Retirement Adviser said: “[Among clients] we see the odd example [of people having overdraft debt] but people tend to become conservative in their spending and hopefully have got some of the less responsible spending out of their way.

[However] with life changes you don’t always land smoothly in retirement. When you get to retirement your income is going to reduce. We see people taking [their pensions] early because of financial stress.”

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