The number of older people in debt has risen sharply over the past year, research from Age- UK reveals.
A poll of 1,000 people aged 60 and over found one in five (20%) owe money on a mortgage, credit card or loan. This figure has doubled since a survey carried out by the charity in 2011.
One fifth (19%) of those in debt are concerned about the amount of money they owe, with one in ten (11%) having to borrow money to pay their rent or mortgage.
Michelle Mitchell, charity director-general at Age UK says: "It is extremely worrying that such a high number of older people report having debts and have had to borrow money just to keep a roof over their heads."
The survey also found a third did not feel income from their pensions and savings was enough for a financially stable future.
Nick Flynn, divisional director of the Retirement Adviser warned about what he called "unknown debt."
He explained: If you get a credit card every month, you know you've got a debt. But I think with mortgages such as endowment or interest- only mortgages, people are unconscious about their debt.
"It's more of a concern when they realise they've been paying this for years and they haven't paid any of the mortgage off as such. They've just been paying the interest. I suppose the only solution there is equity release. Or continue to work or get another job to supplement your retirement income."
Age-UK has said the burden could be lessened if more people claimed the retirement benefits they are entitled to. Up to 1.6 million older people have not taken up Pension Credit meaning around £5.5 billion goes unclaimed each year.
Mitchell added: "Older people are more likely than any other age group to miss out on their benefits because they are hesitant to claim, don't think they are eligible, or believe the claiming process is over-complicated and intrusive. There is a real need to get rid of the stigma that some people associate with claiming benefits."
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