Pensioners squeezed by rising prices and debt

INCREASING numbers of pensioners in Yorkshire are being hit by a double squeeze of rising prices and high debt repayments.

Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Post show those from the region who contacted a debt charity for advice in the first six months of this year owed an average of £19,758 on credit cards, loans and other types of unsecured credit.

Of those pensioners from Yorkshire who contacted the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS), 51 per cent faced minimum debt repayments higher than the state pension each month.

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Before receiving debt counselling, their minimum monthly repayments totalled £621, on average – nearly one-and-a-half times the amount received in state pension.

Matt Hartley, a spokesperson for CCCS, said: “Pensioners in Yorkshire are facing a double squeeze on their income with high debt repayments adding to rising food and energy bills that are already causing difficulties for many.”

Delroy Corinaldi, external affairs director at CCCS, added: “These figures show the alarming scale of the debt problem among older people in the UK.

“I am concerned that an increasing number are at risk of falling into serious debt.”

Throughout the UK as a whole the charity found pensioners coming to them owed an average of £20,831 on loans, credit cards and other types of unsecured credit.

Age UK says the majority of pensioners live on low to middle incomes and many have been hit hard by the rising cost of food and energy. Pensioners are hit particularly hard by climbing inflation rates because they spend a larger percentage of their budget on food and fuel.

Due to rising inflation Age UK Enterprises, the commercial services arm of the charity, says that since 2008 the over-55s have faced additional living costs of £984.28, when compared with the population as a whole.

It says the gap is partly due to the low interest rate environment, which has resulted in reduced mortgage repayments for the majority of home owners but benefited those later in life less because they are less likely to carry mortgage debt.

Age UK Enterprises say the impact has lessened over the last few months. However, looking ahead it is feared energy price increases will cause inflation to rise – a move which will again hit pensioners hard as they spend a high proportion of their budget on energy.

Comment: Page 10.