Research carried out by Age UK revealed that debt is commonly assumed to be more of a problem for younger people than for those later in life. Traditionally, older people are seen as living within their means and very reluctant to use credit or get into debt. However, low returns from savings, decreasing annuity rates and rising prices for energy and other basic costs are adding to the financial pressures on many in older age.
There may also be generational effects, as those reaching retirement now are more used to credit cards and other forms of borrowing than older pensioners, and financial services have changed over time. For example recently, the Financial Conduct Authority has highlighted the large numbers of people approaching, or in retirement, with interest-only mortgages.
Anyone can get into debt, for a wide range of reasons, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone and it’s never too early or too late to seek help.
Where to get help
A debt adviser can help you deal with your debts, but don’t be tempted to pay a debt management company – there’s a lot of free, confidential, independent help available to you. The following organisations can offer debt advice:
- Citizens Advice – offers help via home visits, telephone or by email 0344 411 1444 in England, 0344 477 2020 in Wales and 0808 800 9060 in Scotland www.citizensadvice.org.uk
- National Debtline – provides telephone and email advice. They can send you a free self-help information pack. 0808 808 4000, nationaldebtline.org
- Payplan – provides telephone advice and can help you set up a debt management plan. 0800 280 2816, payplan.com
- Shelter – provides advice around housing and homelessness, including managing debt, paying rent or mortgage arrears. www.shelter.org.uk, free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444
- Stepchange – provides telephone advice and can work out the extent of your debt and give a personal action plan. 0800 138 1111, stepchange.org