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More elderly in ‘problem debt’ – Age UK

1.1 million older people are considered to be in ‘problem debt’, new research published by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) and Age UK shows.

Data covering 2002-2010 shows around 6% of over 50s in England were facing debt problems in 2010, and the proportion with problem debt has risen from 23% in 2002.

As well as struggling to repay this, debt can have a significant impact on people’s quality of life. Older people who enter problem debt are over twice as likely to experience marital breakdown as those who do not.

The options to repay debt are more limited, or even non-existent when in old age, the research highlights.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of Age UK said: “There is a small group of older people who are facing the nightmare of increasingly serious debt problems which doubles their chance of their marriage breaking down and can ruin their quality of life.

“While it is good news that overall debt among the older population is falling, this research, supported by evidence from other charities, sends a clear warning that funding for debt and money advice for older people must be protected and expanded.  Debt advisors need to understand the specific needs of older people often living on low fixed incomes and particular attention must be paid to those moving into self-employment or who have recently become unemployed.”

Baroness Sally Greengross, chief executive of ILC-UK, emphasised that: “Without further intervention, problem debt will continue to blight the lives of older people – impacting on their relationships, quality of life and mental health. This is why it is so important that government makes a commitment to protect funding for debt advice services, and that these services are targeted towards those that need help the most.”

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