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Older people's debt increases, yet 1.6m older people don't claim pension credit entitlement, survey finds
Date of article: 28-May-12
Article By: Rachel Baker, News Editor
The amount of older people who owe money has “risen sharply” over the last year and nearly one fifth (19 per cent) of those in debt are concerned about the money they owe, suggests a survey.
The research conducted on behalf of Age UK showed that:
• one in five people aged 60 and over said they owed money on a mortgage, credit card or loan, with levels being significantly higher among the younger end of the age group
• over one in ten (11 per cent) of those interviewed reported having had to borrow money to pay their rent or mortgage
• over a third of those interviewed did not feel that the income from their pensions and savings was enough to cover a financially stable future
A similar survey undertaken last year by Age UK showed one in ten of the pensioners had loans or debts.
The survey was conducted by TNS and highlights the importance of Age UK’s current campaign, urging people in later life to claim the benefits they are entitled to in order to maximise their retirement income.
The survey of more than 1000 people aged 60 and over also showed that just under three–quarters, (72 per cent) who claim benefits say that receiving the extra money had made a difference to their lives.
Age UK says there are still 1.8 million pensioners who live in poverty.
Their research shows that a huge amount of benefits, £5.5 billion, goes unclaimed each year and up to 1.6 million older people who are eligible for Pension Credit do not take up their entitlement.
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.
“Far too many older people are living in poverty and the Government must continue to work proactively on ways of getting money to older people who are in desperate need.
“Many older people have had negative experiences when claiming benefits, finding the whole system insurmountable. 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.
“Independent information and advice and face-to-face communication are key to improving the take-up of benefits and we would urge any older person who is struggling or worried about money to contact us. Age UK can offer a free benefit check and help with filling in forms so call our free advice line on 0800 169 6565 or speak to your local Age UK."
To find out more about how Age UK can help, call 0800 169 6565, visit www.ageuk.org.uk or speak to your local Age UK.