Levels of 'extreme debt' in the UK are worsening, says a charity which has seen the number of its clients owing more than £100,000 nearly double.
People near retirement were getting deep in debt, the charity found
The Consumer Credit Counselling Service saw the number of clients in extreme debt rise from 1.4% to 2.7% in a year.
Statistics for its 280,000 customers for 2005 showed people aged between 40 and 59 had the highest level of debt - owing an average of £34,456.
But increases in the amount of money owed were greatest among the over-60s.
The CCCS said the amount of money owed by people over 60 who contacted the group had soared by 25% to an average of £33,658.
The Foundation for Credit Counselling, which is responsible for the CCCS, said it hoped to use the statistics to help people in debt.
Chairman Malcolm Hurlston said: "The aim of this yearbook is to make use of the knowledge and experience of CCCS in improving our understanding of people in debt, alleviating their problems and anticipating future needs."
The CCCS also saw the number of young people struggling with debt increase. It was contacted by more 18 to 24-year-olds and found they owed an average of £15,079 in 2005, compared with £11,935 two years earlier.
Overall, of people on one of the group's debt management plans - under which interest is frozen in exchange for a set amount being repaid each month - the average amount owed was £30,763 in 2005, as against £29,340 the year before.