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Millions of struggling pensioners sitting on untapped property wealth

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A third of retirees (32%) live on less than the minimum wage, yet 68% of them have untapped property wealth, according to a report.

Research by LV= found that 42% of over-65s – the equivalent of 4.8 million people – have ‘gone without’ due to tight budgets.

These pensioners sacrifice items such as holidays abroad (25%), a new car (16%) or dining out (15%), and five per cent can’t afford to buy birthday or Christmas presents for friends and family.

Of retirees whose income is less than the minimum wage, the number ‘going without’ rises to 54%, while 15% can’t afford to replace household goods and over 150,000 struggle with their utility bills.

However, LV= figures show 83% of over-65s own their home, and are sitting on an average of £235,750 in property equity, which they could potentially access to have a more comfortable retirement.

Seven per cent of over-65s have unlocked the capital in their property to help fund retirement. Misconceptions and low awareness of equity release appear to be preventing more people from doing so, as 17% incorrectly believed they would pass on debt by using equity release, while one in four mistakenly thought equity release borrowing could exceed the value of their property.

John Perks, managing director of retirement solutions at LV=, said: “It’s deeply concerning so many older people are struggling in retirement, often going without essentials – but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many options available, and using untapped housing wealth to supplement other incomes is a route worth considering, as it allows you to free up capital and afford the retirement you want.

“It is unfortunate misconceptions about the way retirees can use their property to plug an income shortfall persist as, in the right circumstances, equity release can be used to help afford retirees a better, more comfortable standard of living. We would always recommend someone seeks advice from a specialist before taking out equity release.”

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