Page last updated at 00:30 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 01:30 UK

Debt levels rising among over-60s

Credit cards
The report said older people were using credit to pay everyday bills

Older people are in 25% more debt than four years ago, according to a report by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).

A study of over 60s who sought help from CAS found debt levels had risen to £17,767 since 2004, but more than a quarter had a debt of over £25,000.

The report found many of the older clients seeking advice had a low income from which to repay high debts.

CAS called on the Scottish Government to ensure that measures to deal with debt were accessible to older people.

The report, Growing Old Together: Older CAB Clients and Debt, claimed that average debt levels for this group were 29 times their monthly income.

Clients with the lowest income had the highest relative debt, it said.

We need to see more responsible lending from creditors
Kaliani Lyle
CAS chief executive

It cited the example of one woman who had debts totalling £80,000 which she had accumulated on 15 store cards and nine credit cards.

The client's only income was from her pension and CAS said anxiety about losing her home had made her borrow more to meet at least the minimum repayments.

The research found that household bills, such as council tax and utility bills, created the most anxiety for older people and that they were using credit to pay them.

CAS chief executive Kaliani Lyle said: "Debt can become a source of real stress for people who can't see a way out.

"That's why we want the Scottish Government to ensure that the measures to deal with debt, such as Debt Arrangement Schemes or the Low Income Low Asset regulations are accessible and beneficial for older clients.

"It is important that older people ensure that they are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to, but we also need to see more responsible lending from creditors, taking fully into account a client's situation and level of income."

CAS has published the report at the start of Advice Week, which runs until 10 October.



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