Nearly half of over-55s are still in debt as they approach retirement, new figures from the Debt Advisory Centre show.

On average over-55s owe £4,400 each. Those debts are held on credit cards, unsecured loans, mortgages and hire purchase agreements.

Around 13% of people owe more than £10,000.

Dealing with debt

These large debts could mean that thousands of older people have to continue working past their retirement age. Of those surveyed 7% admitted that they were planning to delay their retirement while they dealt with their debts.

The research has also revealed a shocking lack of financial planning among the older generation, with 25% saying they have no idea how they are going to pay off their debts.

“It’s very worrying to see such a high number of people approaching retirement with substantial debts to clear,” said Melanie Taylor, spokesperson for Debt Advisory Centre. “It’s also concerning to see the lack of planning that some are doing to ensure these debts are paid.”

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Anxious and annoyed

Look at one of those statistics from the other side and the picture becomes even bleaker – only 7% are planning to continue working to pay off their debts. This means the vast majority are planning to retire while still owing money.

Back in January, Prudential reported that one in five people planning to retire this year will do so in the red, with an average debt of an incredible £21,800.

The survey found that a quarter of over-55s are anxious about approaching retirement with debts and were unsure how they were going to manage. More than a quarter said they felt annoyed that their retirement would be affected by debt.

Entering into retirement with debt is very worrying, especially if you have no idea how you are going to meet your financial obligations.

“Most people see their incomes drop once they move from a regular wage to a pension, which usually means they have to change their lifestyle. Trying to make debt repayments with a reduced income means that some pensioners will have to sacrifice more than is comfortable in order to cover priority bills such as housing costs, utilities and food,” said Taylor.

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