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Debt is commonly assumed to be a problem of the young and not of the old. New research carried out by ILC-UK and supported by Age UK examines the validity of this assumption and sets out the extent to which debt impacts on the lives of older people.
Over recent years, older people, in common with other age groups, have faced significant financial challenges. For older people, lower than expected returns on savings and decreases in annuity rates have reduced the income many retirees were expecting in later life. Increases in energy and food costs are also hitting older people on fixed incomes hard, while older workers are faced with unprecedented job and income insecurity. Could these new challenges have influenced the attitudes and behaviours of older people towards credit usage? And just how accurate are cosy depictions of older people as ‘squirreling savers shunning credit’ compared to the reality?
This new research explores the way in which attitudes towards borrowing vary by age before presenting new findings on levels of problem debt among older people. The characteristics associated with entering problem debt are explored in this research, as well as the outcomes of living with problem debt on the lives of older people.
Dr Dylan Kneale, Head of Research at ILC-UK, presented the findings of the research. Dr Stella Creasy MP, known for her parliamentary work around the field of debt, was a keynote speaker, while Sally West, Income and Poverty Strategy Adviser at Age UK, provided insight into the organisation’s work in providing debt counselling and advice for older people. Tom Wright, Chief Executive of Age UK, and Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief executive of ILC-UK, co-chaired the event and all took part in a panel debate after presentations.