Pensioners facing financial abyss

MORE pensioners than ever are staring into the financial abyss after figures today revealed a spiralling number are being declared bankrupt.

MORE pensioners than ever are staring into the financial abyss after figures today revealed a spiralling number are being declared bankrupt.

Numbers registering their economic meltdown at Ipswich's official receivers office have more than tripled in only six years.

In 2000, only 22 people aged 60 or older admitted bankruptcy compared to 72 in 2006.

The alarming statistics are matched regionally and nationally.

In East Anglia, the figure has jumped from 137 in 2000 to 720 in 2006, while in England during the same period, it has rocketed from 924 to 4,622.

The worrying trend has prompted concerned calls from elderly welfare charities, who cite a number of reasons for the sharp incline.

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Daphne Savage, chief executive of Age Concern Suffolk, said the rise could not only be put down to an increasingly older population.

She said: “There are a number of older people retiring whose company pensions are not what they expected, or they were hit by some company pension schemes failing, or their pensions are not index-linked so they don't keep pace with inflation.

“Many people face a huge drop in their income in retirement and then have to negotiate a complex benefits system. Research suggests that 50 per cent of pensioners are not receiving all the allowances and financial benefits available to them.

“And older people spend a high proportion of their income on essentials - gas and electricity, council tax, food - and when these increase in price that large proportion of their income is badly affected.”

She said pensioners in rural areas were often hit harder because services and facilities were further away and cost more to reach.

The bankruptcy figures follow a survey which reveals one in ten pensioners in the east of England are taking drastic cost-cutting measures, as the extent of the pension crisis emerges.

Half of all the over-60s in the region interviewed by insurance firm Norwich Union were trying to get by on less than £10,000 a year.

Information for pensioners on dealing with debt is available by calling 01449 674222.

Are you a pensioner struggling with debt? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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