The proportion of people retiring with debt in the UK is at its highest level in seven years, with one-in-four (25%) retirees set to do so in 2017, according to research by Prudential.
Those retiring in 2017 in debt owe on average £24,300 - an increase of £5,500, or 29%, since last year, and this year's figures also represent the first time Prudential has reported a growth in the amount of retiree debt since 2012 when the figure peaked at £38,200.
On average, those expecting to clear their debts will take nearly three and a half years to pay them off and can expect their repayments to cost them an average of £230 a month - an increase on the £224 a month recorded in last year's survey. Nearly one in six (16%) expect to take seven years to pay it off, however, while a significant minority of 7% fear they will never be debt free.
On average, women planning to retire this year with debts owe more than men at £25,700, in comparison with £23,400. More than a quarter (28%) of men expect to retire with debt outstanding, however, compared with a fifth (21%) of women.
Mortgages have become a bigger source of debt for retirees in 2017 compared with previous years, the research suggests. Almost two-fifths (38%) of those expecting to retire this year still owe money on property - a noticable increase on the one-third (33%) last year.
Credit cards remain the major debt issue for retirees, however, with half (51%) of those with debt still owing money on plastic.
Prudential retirement income expert Vince Smith-Hughes said: "For most people the move from work into retirement will see them having to cope with a drop in their income. So having to use precious retirement income to pay off debts could make life even more tricky for the newly retired."
He added: "With this in mind, it is a worry that we have seen a big jump - not only in the proportion of retirees with outstanding debt but also the amount they owe."
Intelligent Pensions head of pathways Andrew Pennie echoed Smith-Hughes's concerns, describing the findings as "deeply worrying".
He said: "We need to find a way of helping and encouraging people to engage with their retirement planning earlier, ideally involving regulated advice, and the workplace is an obvious place to start delivering that support."
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