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Over 50s left in cold over debt

An investigation by Citizens Advice has uncovered a need for greater availability of impartial and free financial advice on pensions and mortgages for the over 50s.

Between May 2007 and March 2009, a Citizens Advice pilot project has seen Independent Financial Advisers (IFA) give their time for free in bureaux to advise over 1,100 members of the public on their financial concerns. The project dealt with almost 2,400 problems and is said to have exposed a gap in the availability of impartial help for people who can’t afford to pay for advice on their mortgages, pensions or investments.

A key finding was that the majority of clients were aged over 50 and owned their own homes, but had low monthly incomes.

Teresa Perchard, Director of Policy at Citizens Advice said:
“The findings of MoneyPlan show a worrying gap in the availability of financial advice for people who can’t afford to pay for it or know where to start to find it. It does not follow that because someone has a low monthly income that their financial situation is simple. Many of the clients seen by this project have complicated enquiries about their mortgages, pensions or questions about equity release. There is nowhere impartial for them to turn at the moment with these complex enquiries – this is something which needs to be addressed. Citizens Advice is grateful for the support of the PFS and other partners in establishing this pilot.”

Citizens Advice Chief Executive David Harker added:
“A recent funding boost has enabled us to see more clients, and train more advisers but we are expecting to see many more people struggling with severe debt and related problems as the recession continues to take its toll. It is therefore absolutely vital that all lenders and creditors treat people in arrears fairly and sympathetically, negotiate with borrowers in trouble and do everything they can to help ease their debt problems and avoid adding to them.”



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