Over-55s housing payout hits £10.4bn

This averages at £14,064, by far the most expensive commitment for the over-55 demographic.

In total over-55s coughed up £26.7bn for their families, with elders most commonly pay off debts (20%), helping loved ones raise children (19%) and paying for their holidays (14%).

Over half of over-55s now feel responsible for supporting their adult children financially (52%) while over a quarter (27%) would rather help now than leave an inheritance.

Nigel Waterson, chairman of the Equity Release Council, said: “Economic pressures have caused a spike in demand for help from the Bank of Mum and Dad.

“Given a choice between leaving an inheritance or offering financial support at an earlier stage in life, it is clear that many over-55s would rather act now and take satisfaction from helping younger generations onto a more secure footing.

“It is no wonder that a climate of rising house prices and low wages leaves many of the older generation with a sense of responsibility for their family’s financial fortunes, even after their children have reached adulthood.”

Providing financial support to family members is one of the most common uses of equity release, with nearly a quarter (23%) of customers drawing on their housing wealth for this purpose in Q3 2014 according to data from Key Retirement.

Waterson added: “Many over-55s will go to considerable lengths to ease the pressure that younger relatives now face – even if their personal circumstances suffer as a result.

“The ability to draw on some of their accrued housing wealth to help out family members gives many older homeowners a compelling reason to consider equity release.

“Entering and moving up in the property market remains one of the hardest challenges that younger people face today.

“Equity release is a valuable option to give them a helping hand without having to downsize or put off your retirement to generate extra funds.”