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One in Three Women over 54 have Borrowed Just to Make Ends Meet but Men Twice as Likely to Use 0% Credit Cards, reveals Cebr research for more2life

One in Three Women over 54 have Borrowed Just to Make Ends Meet but Men Twice as Likely to Use 0% Credit Cards, reveals Cebr research for more2life
  • 30% of women aged 54+ think that Covid-19 will cause an increase in their debt levels
  • The majority (72%) of over-54s dip into cash savings to plug income gaps
A third (33%) of women aged over 54 who have taken on or held debt in the last five years have done so to cover day-to-day expenses, according to new research from equity release lender more2life and economics consultancy Cebr. This is compared to just over a quarter (26%) of men.
Men (30%) were more likely to get into debt to finance a large purchase such as a vehicle when compared to women (23%) and use debt to repay other borrowing (24% vs. 22%).  Women (31%) were also more likely to need to make mortgage repayments than their male counterparts (26%).  This seems to suggest that women are more cautious in their approach to borrowing, focusing on the necessities rather than big ticket items.
Most Common Reason for Taking or Holding Debt Women Men
To cover day to day expenses 33% 26%
To keep up with mortgage repayments 31% 26%
To make a large purchase, for example, a vehicle 23% 30%
To repay other borrowing 22% 24%
For home furnishing and repairs 18% 18%
For both men and women, the most common form of borrowing was against a credit card, with one-fifth (21%) of respondents saying they had used this form of unsecured borrowing in the last five years. However, men were twice as likely to use a 0% credit card to help manage their finances, with 20% of men saying they had used this form of borrowing compared to just 10% of women.
Looking ahead, 30% of women aged 54 and over said they expect the Covid-19 crisis to cause an increase in the amount of debt they have over the next six months, with 13% believing the crisis would lead to a large increase in their debt levels. This was more than double the number of men (6%) who believed Covid-19 would cause a large increase in their debt levels.
This could be a result of many older women seeing the value of their pension pots fall or losing their jobs as a result of the economic impact of the crisis. Indeed, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that employment for women aged 65 and over had fallen by 79,000 between May and July this year – a record decrease for this demographic1. As a result, some older women could be living on a much lower income after the crisis and may be more likely to borrow in the future to make ends meet.
Dave Harris, Chief Executive Officer at more2life, comments: “While unsecured borrowing is how many people manage their day-to-day finances, it is particularly worrying to see that older women are borrowing to make ends meet.  With the gender pensions gap a pressing issue, this suggests that those in and approaching retirement are struggling financially which does not bode well for the future.

“Indeed, the Covid-19 crisis is sure to accelerate this issue as it takes a toll on people’s job security and retirement income. It is vital that the financial services industry engages with older generations, particularly women, to ensure that this demographic is properly supported in the months and years to come and that more retirees can live with financial stability.”
The research also revealed that nearly two in five (38%) retirees aged 54 and over say their monthly expenditure exceeds their household's income, either on an occasional or regular basis. Looking at this more closely, a third (33%) of women say this is the case in their household.
When considering the over-54s as a whole, a significant majority (72%) dip into their cash savings to cover necessary costs when their expenditure exceeds their income. Nearly one-fifth (16%) of this cohort have also used their bank overdraft to bridge the gap between income and expenditure.  
Dave Harris concludes: “Today’s findings highlight the lack of knowledge among older Britons on the range of financial options available to them which can further support them in later life, with many resorting to their cash savings or unsecured borrowing to make ends meet. The later life lending industry has an obligation to raise awareness of the full range of solutions available to support retirees who are facing financial hardship. This will ensure that those in later life are aware of all of their options to boost and manage their retirement income, particularly in the current climate.
“Utilising their housing wealth, for example, could be one such solution. By working with an adviser to form a holistic financial plan which incorporates a variety of assets, such as property, retirees can enjoy a more secure retirement.”
Notes to Editors
1 =
Research Methodology
Data for this report was collated and analysed by Cebr, using the following sources:
  • Wealth and Asset survey, Wave 6, UK Data Service;
  • Bank of England NMG survey;
  • A survey commissioned by more2life, which was carried out by Opinion Matters between 04.05.2020 – 11.05.2020 and received 1,029 responses from individuals aged 54+.
For more information, please contact:
Lee Blackwell
Director of Public Relations and Public Affairs
Key Group
+44 (0)7384 511 140
[email protected]
Rachel Mann
Key Group
+44 (0)1772 269 363
[email protected]
Taneesha Pawar, Eve Frayling
+44 (0)203 404 7700
[email protected]
About more2life
Part of Key Group, more2life is one of the UK’s three largest equity release lenders with total loans under management surpassing £3billion by the end of 2019. 
They offer a range of flexible equity release products with modern lending features that are tailored to help customers access their housing equity in a way which is best suited to their individual circumstances.
Constantly pushing for the later life market to evolve, more2life believes that a strong vibrant adviser community is vital to growing the sector and ensuring older customers can access their equity in a safe sustainable manner.
A committed advice advocate, more2life supports advisers with a range of tools, on demand webinars and technological advancements focused on helping them to better service the evolving needs of their clients.
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