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More than half of those aged over 50 (58 per cent) believe that the government should pay for care for the elderly, research has shown.

A quarter may risk debt management problems attempting to fund their own care during retirement, claiming that their state pension is not enough to cover costs, the Saga survey revealed.

Nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of those aged over 50 have admitted that they would rather opt to live in a care home rather than burden their families.

Alex Edmans, care funding adviser at Saga Personal Finance, explained that old people would prefer not to rely on family for their long-term needs.

He said: "If long-term care is required we would urge families to talk about this critical issue as early as possible, and seek professional advice as there are things that can be done to ensure that fees can be met for life and also to protect assets as far as possible."

The research comes after comments from Richard Dodd, spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium, who claimed that people are "nervous" about spending money they do not have in the recession.

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