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One in four pensioners plan to take their debt to the grave, says Sesame

One in four pensioners is racking up debt with no intention of paying it off, according to Sesame.

The findings are part of the Sesame Debt Survey, which found that just over a quarter of the respondents who had debt, 200 of which were 65 years old and over, said they had no intention of clearing their current debt.

The flip side to this is that those pensioners trying to settle their affairs are increasingly turning to equity release in retirement to clear the debt ratcheted up on credit cards and loans during their working lives.

The trend of increasing overall debt to clear current borrowing commitments is also picked up in the survey as the findings show 14 per cent of all respondents have considered it.

Sesame argues this is because the first generation of UK adults to experience the consumer credit revolution in the 1960s and 1970s and are now retiring. This generation of pensioners are breaking the typical stereotype because they are far more comfortable with carrying debt.

Sesame head of customer propositions Alastair Conway says: “Startling though these findings are, it is important to see past the headline and through to what’s driving pensioners to take such drastic measures. People have to take control of their finances in the lead up to retirement and beyond, if we are to avoid adding to the UK’s mounting debt crisis. This is because the ability of retired people to recover from bad financial decisions is more limited. The alternative may be equally drastic, in that it may force the government to consider moving towards a system more akin to that of Japan, where debt is passed to children on the death of the parent. Indeed we are seeing moves in this direction already with the introduction of the ‘deathbed mortgage’. These are clearly issues that we need to be addressing.”

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