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Older people face financial difficulties

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Older people face sleepless nights over their ability to pay bills while sitting on a potential housing goldmine, the Equity Release Council has claimed.

The trade body said one-in-three homeowners over 55 had experienced stress or sleepless nights over unpaid bills or other financial issues.

With pensions changes coming into force next month, 34% said they wanted to discuss property wealth as part of the new ‘guidance guarantee’.

Additionally, 19% said they had argued with a partner or family about money and 9% have been late paying a utility bill.

The council said many retirees were struggling, despite having an average of £241,000 wealth tied up in their property.

It said almost one-in-four over 55s had already remortgaged their property in the past but that this was proving increasingly difficult. The survey found that 20% of people aged over 55 said they had been refused a residential mortgage from a traditional lender.

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.

“Putting money into property is one of the most reliable ways to grow your wealth, even if it simply happens as part of life rather than as a conscious investment. Using equity release to realise these gains should be seen as a positive step that gives a financial boost and enriches lives, without people having to move on from the place they call home.”

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