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The old problem

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A lot of people aged 65 or over have big debts – and the problem looks set to become worse, as Mike Collins discovers

Over two million people aged 65 or over have debts in excess of £15.9bn, according to a recent study by debt solutions company, One Advice. This figure represents 21% of this age group and equates to a debt of £7,342 per person in this age group.

The study’s findings reveal that 709,705 people of 65 or over have mortgages of, on average, £18,153 each or £12.88bn in total collectively. Around 1.42 million owe £1.67bn in total on credit cards, with £906.5m outstanding on personal loans and £311m on overdrafts.

Commenting on the figures, Chris Holmes, chief executive of One Advice, says: “Given that most people aged 65 or over are not working, seeing so much debt in this age group is very worrying. Many of them will be servicing their debts from their pensions, and this no doubt contributes to two million pensioners living below the poverty line.”

Financial adviser Martin Cunningham agrees: “These are sobering figures and bear out what I see in the day-to-day course of my work,” he says. “Just like any other age group in the population the elderly find it easy to run up debts in a society where credit is showered recklessly around like confetti.

“However, the big problem here is that these people cannot realistically do much to alleviate their debt problems and you have to wonder what the implications are for them, especially as people are living so much longer these days.”

He continues: “In tandem with the massive pension problems in this country, we have a serious problem that will only get worse as the over-65s become an ever bigger, and non-working, proportion of the population.”

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