Bankruptcy among pensioners is new epidemic

The latest figures for bankruptcy hold some good news. As we reported earlier this week, after a year of steady increases in the level of people being declared bankrupt, there has been a lull.

However, on closer examination it emerges that for one group there is no good news. Pensioners are seeing rates rise 50% faster than other age groups. So what is happening, and what can you do about it?

Increasing debts
It's worth pointing out that levels of bankruptcy among pensioners have typically been lower than any other group in the UK, as the knowledge that we live on a fixed income in retirement stops the biggest mistakes made by other age groups. However, the rates are rising at astonishing levels. The rate for all those over 65 has risen six-fold in ten years, while the rate for women has increased ten-fold.

The experts stress that these are not isolated instances of excess. More often than not, these are hard-working individuals who are simply unable to meet the cost of basic necessities from their income.

This is alarming for those individuals, as you have limited opportunities to increase your income, and are therefore likely to struggle with money for the rest of your life. However, it is also worrying for the rest of the retired population, as where there is one bankruptcy there are likely to be hundreds more struggling and teetering on the edge of solvency.

So what can you do about it?
Whether you are just starting to feel the pinch, or have been struggling on a knife edge for quite some time, the first step is often to get some help.

There are ways you can reduce your outgoings, through revisiting basic costs like utilities in order to reduce your expenses, and looking at how you borrow, in order to ensure you are not paying over the odds. There are day-to-day changes you can make such as downshifting brands and reconsidering expensive habits like a newspaper or cup of coffee.

There are also ways you can increase your income - regardless of your age. This may mean checking you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to, or looking at whether you can make money through your hobbies or through taking on part time work, such as babysitting.

Where to get help
There are a number of charities who can help advise you, including Citizen's Advice and CCCS. They both have trained advisers who can talk you through your options and help see a way through the nightmare.

In many instances, you may also be able to turn to close family. Older people who have spent their lives looking after children and grandchildren have a right to be able to turn to their kids in their hour of need, and most children will do anything they can to help - even if it is simply to share the burden o0f worry and to help find a solution.

When you're struggling with debts it's always hard to see a solution, and when you're doing it in retirement it's even harder. However, for many people there are answers out there, and there is still a chance to avoid joining the growing ranks of the retired bankrupts.

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