Ipswich: Money crisis for those in their 50s and 60s

Maureen Reynel, Chief Executive of Families in Need,who has noticed a rise in the numbers of older p

Maureen Reynel, Chief Executive of Families in Need,who has noticed a rise in the numbers of older people asking for help. - Credit: Archant

Increasing numbers of people in their 50s and 60s in Ipswich and Felixstowe are seeking help after falling into financial difficulty.

The recent rise comes as Age UK released a survey which revealed a quarter of those in the age group were worried about mortgage or rent payments.

Maureen Reynel, director of Families in Need (FIND) in Ipswich, said in the last month, the charity has distributed more food parcels to those in their 50s and 60s than ever before.

“There has definitely been a rise and this is due to a whole variety of reasons,” she said.

Changes to the benefits system, illness and unemployment due to the recession were all to blame, she said.

Nelleke van Helfteren, deputy manager of the Ipswich & District Citizens Advice Bureau, said she was also aware of the problem.

“We do see a lot of people who would have been getting to the end of their mortgage payments but have re-mortgaged to deal with debt.

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“It is a sign of the times. A lot of people are borrowing more and getting loans from payday lenders to pay off debts.

“There are always other options though. It’s about financial planning and looking ahead and using the advice from agencies like ourselves and the Money Advice Service.”

Jane London, deputy manager of Felixstowe Citizens Advice Bureau, added: “We have seen an increase in slightly older people approaching retirement age who are struggling because perhaps they have lost their job or are not fit enough to work.

“We are now getting a lot of people come to us because they have to pay something towards council tax but their housing benefit just doesn’t cover it.”

Age UK’s survey revealed 23% of the 971 people aged between 50 and 55 they questioned feared they would not be able to keep up mortgage payments or rent even though they should be at the peak of their earning power.

Helen Taylor, information manager at Age UK Suffolk, said: “We do regularly get enquiries from people who are concerned about affording their mortgage and rental payments.

“Often this can be attributed to a life changing event experienced in someone’s early 60s such as the onset of illness or disability or the ending of a relationship, which prevents someone maintaining their employment and level of income.

“We know that many older people currently find themselves locked out of the job market just because of their age. With the state pension age rising to 67 by 2028, it is more important than ever that the Government, employers and recruiters ensure that people looking for work are judged on their skills, expertise and what they can bring to a job, not just their birth date, enabling them to continue to contribute to the economy and build up a financially secure entitlement.”

Age UK provides free information to older people and have an independent Benefits Advice Service for those over retirement age. For help call 01473 257039 or visit its Ipswich Help Centre at 41a Upper Brook Street.

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