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Easy access to credit is to blame for the increasing numbers of old people facing debt they cannot afford to repay, an expert has claimed.

A spokesperson for Saga, a group which provides services to those aged 50 and above, said society’s attitude towards debt has changed and people are happy to have high levels of debt.

"Obviously there are people facing financial hardship and part of that is due to the easy access to credit, which can encourage people to get into levels of debt they cannot manage," he commented.

However, the spokesperson said recent research by firm Wilkins Kennedy which suggested the number of pensioners going bankrupt had doubled in five years was misleading.

It was likely to have been an increase from an "exceptionally low base" he said, adding that 80 per cent of the nation’s wealth belongs to the over-50s.

The research by Wilkins Kennedy had concluded an increased life expectancy and increases in the cost of living had put a greater strain on pensioners’ savings.

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