StepChange says Devon's over 60s have higher debts

People over the age of 60 owe more money per person than any other age group, a charity has said.

StepChange said over 60s in Devon who asked for help last year had unsecured debts - which do not include mortgages - averaging £21,000.

The charity received more than 2,000 requests for help in Devon in 2012.

Torquay had the highest average over-60s debt at £26,976. In Plymouth the figure was £19,188 and inn Exeter it was £17,751.

StepChange said the number of older people asking for help with debts such as credit cards and loans had risen by more than 30% in the past four years.

'Illness and bereavement'

The charity said nationally the over 60s owed almost £5,000 more than the average debt of £17,000 for all other ages.

The debt analysed by the charity was broken down into four age groups - under 25s, 25 to 39, 40 to 60 and over 60s.

Edward Ware from StepChange said there was "a host of reasons" for the over-60s' debts, including factors which affect all ages such as redundancy and reduced working hours.

"Illness is something that affects the over 60s and bereavement as well," he said.

"And obviously as you approach retirement any factors that reduce your income means you have less time to address any financial difficulties you're suffering.

"Increasingly so, the over 60s are also owing more on housing payment - on rent and mortgages - and these are concerning figures."

Mr Ware said where people live was a factor in how much they owed.

"In more wealthy areas, people with higher incomes tend to actually owe more - it's generally the case that the more access to credit people have, the bigger their debts will be.

"So in the South West where they have higher incomes, then generally the debt levels will tend to be higher."

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