Over-55s suffer financial hardship

Research from the Equity Release Council has revealed that in the last month three in 10 over-55s (31%) have been stressed for financial reasons and a similar proportion (30%) faced sleepless nights.

Even worse, one in 10 (9%) has suffered the cold because of unpaid bills while one in five (19%) has skipped meals.

Nigel Waterson, chairman of the Equity Release Council, said: “These findings are a stark reminder of the financial pressures many people face in later life and counter the perception that many have of the baby-boomer generation as universally carefree and prosperous.

“Despite benefiting from rising house prices which have boosted their property assets, many homeowners are cash-poor in later life and still find it a struggle to meet routine costs.

“Rather than suffering in silence, we must increase peoples’ knowledge of their options and encourage more people to take advantage of the property wealth they have accrued to fund a more comfortable lifestyle.”

Currently a quarter (24%) of over-55 homeowners have used their housing wealth to boost their finances, commonly for home or garden improvements (45%), to pay off loans or credit cards (29%) and to cover everyday costs like bills (7%).

A third (34%) are keen to discuss property wealth as part of the new ‘guidance guarantee’ service Pension Wise, which launches on 6 April 2015.

Waterson added “Many homeowners have regularly remortgaged as a way to use their housing wealth to their advantage.

“Doing similar in retirement through a lifetime mortgage is a rational choice in many cases.

“It makes no sense to abandon this option later in life when many people are cash-poor, asset-rich and have much to gain in terms of a more comfortable and financially stable lifestyle.”