Page last updated at 01:03 GMT, Saturday, 4 July 2009 02:03 UK

Bankruptcy in over-65s 'triples'

Elderly couple
Eldery people have been hit by soaring food and energy costs

The number of people over 65 filing for bankruptcy has almost tripled over the past five years, research based on Insolvency Service figures suggests.

Some 2,595 people aged over 65 went bankrupt in England and Wales in 2008 compared with 983 in 2004 - a rise of 164%, accountants Wilkins Kennedy said.

In the same period, the total number of bankruptcies rose 89% to 67,500.

The firm said more people were entering retirement with unpaid debts and also blamed rising food and energy prices.

It said pensioners tended to spend a higher proportion of their income on essentials such as food and energy than the wider population.

Pensioners... find themselves unable to meet repayments when their incomes shrink back on retirement
Anthony Cork
Wilkins Kennedy

Wilkins Kennedy director Anthony Cork said: "While the number of personal insolvencies has been climbing relentlessly, the finances of those aged over 65 are deteriorating much faster.

"The property boom saw many people remortgaging their houses to withdraw cash, which has resulted in a growing number of pensioners being left with substantial mortgages.

"Pensioners may have outstanding credit card debts which were taken on during the credit boom, so they find themselves unable to meet repayments when their incomes shrink back on retirement."

And Brendan Paddy for Age Concern and Help the Aged agreed older people had been hard hit by rising prices and falling incomes.

"The second thing is, since towards the end of 2008 we've seen interest rates go off a cliff and they're staying down. And so the income from savings that pensioners often rely on just aren't there any more," he added.

The overall number of personal bankruptcies in England and Wales increased from 35,700 to 67,500 over the five-year period.

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