Increased number of over-60s facing rent or mortgage arrears

Overdue mortgage

An increasing number of older people are facing homelessness as they struggle with rising rent and mortgage arrears, a debt charity has warned.

Stepchange Debt Charity said it has seen an increase in the number of people over 60 seeking its help, with 1,837 people aged 60 and over contacting it for help with mortgage and rent arrears, up from 1,084 in 2009.

The debt charity has also seen average rent arrears from those who came to it for help rise to £825 in 2012, up from £755 in 2009.

But the charity said it was particularly concerned at the number of older people seeking its help who still have mortgages outstanding. The average mortgage arrears for over 60s increased from £3,563 in 2009 to £3,998 last year.

In total, 4,317 people over the age of 60 who sought its help in 2012 still had mortgages to repay, up from 2,958 in 2009.

Delroy Corinaldi, external affairs director at StepChange Debt Charity, said: "Struggling to keep a roof over your head is incredibly difficult and stressful at any age, but even more so as you get older. Nobody wants to be facing the prospect of facing homelessness in later life.

"It is crucial that anyone struggling to keep up mortgage or rent payments seeks help as soon as they realise that they have a problem because there is help available. The sooner they seek help the greater the chance that they will be able to stay in their home."

Top tips for facing up to debt worries

1. Identify just how much debt you have

This means opening all the post, calling any companies you owe money to, and finding out just how bad everything has got.

2. Draw up a budget

Unless you are certain of everything you have coming in, and everything going out, there's no way you can get a handle on what you are spending.

3. Work on your budget

Try to improve your income and reduce spending. At the very least you need to bring this back to a situation where you are spending no more than is coming in.

4. Contact your creditors

Contact everyone you owe money to, and ask if they will accept the reduced payments you can afford.

5. Stick with it

It may be tempting to go back to your old ways, but the rewards of keeping debts under control is a retirement where you get to think about something other than money.

Where to seek advice

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