One in six retirees have £25k debts

One in six people planning to retire this year will have debts outstanding, averaging £24,800 each, according to new research from Prudential.

But the average amount owed has fallen substantially for the second year in a row according to the insurer’s seventh annual ‘Class of’ study, which tracks the future plans and aspirations of people planning to retire in the next 12 months.

At 17 per cent, the proportion of people retiring with debts is virtually unchanged from last year’s 18 per cent. But the amount owed by the Class of 2014 is nearly 21 per cent lower than the £31,200 average debt in 2013, and 35 per cent lower than the £38,200 owed in 2012.

Of those planning to retire in 2014, women have cut their debts more significantly compared with a year ago. On average women retirees will owe £20,700 this year compared with £28,100 in 2013. Meanwhile, men will retire with an average debt of £28,400, down from last year’s £33,800. The proportion of women expecting to be in debt is unchanged at 16 per cent, while the proportion of men with debts is virtually unchanged from 20 per cent last year to 19 per cent in 2014.

The Class of 2014’s main sources of debts remain credit cards and mortgages. Around 56 per cent of those in debt owe money on cards while 44 per cent have not fully paid off their mortgages, figures that are virtually unchanged from last year. The proportion of retirees with overdrafts has dropped from 19 per cent to 16 per cent in 2014, while the proportion of people with bank loans outstanding fell to 14 per cent from 21 per cent last year.

Debts remain a major drain on retirement income costing retirees £220 a month – one sixth of the average expected retirement income for those retiring in 2014.

Prudential retirement expert Stan Russell says: “Our new research shows a welcome downward trend in the debts people are taking with them into retirement.

“However, retirement incomes remain under pressure and it is clearly sensible where possible to ensure that debt repayments do not eat into incomes too much or for too long. Paying off debts as early as possible – and ideally while still working – will help to increase disposable income in the early years of retirement.”