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Rising numbers of older people in debt: Age UK survey

Published on 23 May 2012 11:01 PM

Rising numbers of older people in debt suggests Age UK survey

As Britain enters a double-dip recession, research conducted by TNS(1) on behalf of Age UK suggests that the number of older people owing money has risen sharply over the last year and nearly one fifth (19%) of those in debt are concerned about the amount of money they owe(2).

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(3). Over one in ten (11%) of those interviewed reported having had to borrow money to pay their rent or mortgage(4). Further questions showed that 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(5). A similar survey undertaken last year by Age UK showed one in ten of the pensioners had loans or debts(6).

The survey by TNS on behalf of Age UK of more than 1000 people aged 60 and over highlights the importance of Age UK's ‘More Money in Your Pocket' (MMIYP) campaign - launched this month- encouraging people in later life to claim benefits they are entitled to and maximise their retirement income.

The survey showed that just under three-quarters (72%) of those(7) who claim benefits say that receiving the extra money had made a difference to their lives.

There are still 1.8 million pensioners who live in poverty and as much as £5.5 billion in benefits goes unclaimed each year with up to 1.6 million older people who are eligible for Pension Credit not taking up their entitlement(7).

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.'

‘More Money in Your Pocket' is part of Age UK's ‘Let's Talk Money Campaign' which aims to help people get the most out is running throughout April and May. It's focused on helping people maximise their income through claiming the benefits they are entitled to and making the most of Age UK's products and services. To find out more about how Age UK can help, call 0800 169 6565, visit or speak to your local Age UK.


Notes to editors


Media contact: Liz Fairweather Telephone: 020 3033 1718

Out of hours:07071 243243

The Age UK Advice line is free to call and open 365 days a year, from 8am to 7pm on 0800 169 65 65.

Case studies and spokespeople are available for interview - please contact Liz Fairweather to arrange.  

Missing out on money? Watch our short film at

Age UK's ‘Let's Talk Money' campaign aims to help people get the most out of their money in later life. To download Age UK's free ‘Worried you can't afford to retire?' guide and to find out more about how Age UK can help you plan for retirement, call 0800 169 6565, visit or speak to your local Age UK.


1. 1,036 adults aged 60+ were interviewed face to face by TNS Omnibus, 27/04/12-06/05/12 (Great Britain)1. 

2. TNS Benefits Omnibus Study: May 2012: 19% of those in debt concerned about the amount of money they owe.

3.TNS Finance Omnibus Study: May 2012. 20% owed money

4.TNS Finance Omnibus Study: May 2012: 11% have borrowed money to make rent or mortgage payments32 TNS Finance Omnibus Study: May 2012: 19% of those in debt are concerned about the money they owe

5. TNS Finance Omnibus Study: May 2012: 37% disagreed that their income from pensions and savings would ensure that they were financially stable for life

6. TNS Benefits Omnibus Study: March 2011:11% say they are in debt

7. TNS Finance Omnibus Study: May 2012: 72% said benefits had made a difference to the quality of their life.

8. Households Below Average Income 2009/10, Chapters 2 and 6, DWP, 2011 (figures quoted after housing costs)

Age UK For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.

About Age UK: Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, dedicated to improving later life. We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to well over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and wellbeing, home and care, work and learning and travel and lifestyle. We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI (together the Age UK Family), our local Age UK partners in England and local Age Concerns. We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International. Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798).

Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we"). Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).

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Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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