State pensioner urges empathy towards older people and housing costs | Personal Finance | Finance

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State pensioners will often have to navigate retirement with the sum they receive from the Department for Work and Pensions, alongside any personal savings they have made. Some assert this is a particular challenge each month as they try to keep afloat financially, and have urged others to be aware of their monetary situation. This is a point raised by Christine Ritchie, a 72-year-old working state pensioner, who – during an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk – expressed her frustrations about the perceptions of older people’s supposed wealth.

Ms Ritchie explained her own circumstances as they relate to the housing costs she took on earlier in life. 

She urged people to consider issues such as these before “criticising” older people for their monetary status.

Ms Ritchie said: “The 1979 Conservative Government made itself known. The incoming administration of Margaret Thatcher raised interest rates to 17 percent.

“This was seen by the Government of the time as a key weapon in combating inflation. It did have the effect of reducing inflation, although critics noted its negative impact on UK manufacturing exports.

READ MORE: State pensioners could get up to £300 this winter to help with costs

“In those days, I was told if there wasn’t a man signing you ended up paying extra. I may have paid 14 percent otherwise, but as a single woman they whacked mine up an extra three percent.  

“I paid 17 percent interest on the loan for my home, with no real affordable holidays for 10 years. The exception on spending was painting, decorating, repairs and garden tasks.

“While my terraced house cost £17,500, this equates to around £77,000 today. You won’t buy an awful lot with that kind of money now. 

“But the mortgage payments were 17 percent against today’s Bank of England base rate of 0.1 percent – this was a huge amount per month.”

Ms Ritchie lamented what she believes the perception of British pensioners is as “wealthy” or “well off”, as she said there are a number of other factors which need to be considered.

This, she added, has particularly come to light when considering the Government’s new proposed social care levy – intended to help cover the cost of social care. 

She concluded: “The idea of an easy life, leading to an easy retirement isn’t my or many of my friends’ reality.

“For example, when we’re thinking about the cost of care later in life, many people will say ‘older people have bigger homes and they should sell them!’ But it’s not quite as simple as that at all. 

“It’s the medical costs that this social care levy is going to cover – the small print shows bed and board will be extra.

“So yes, our houses may have been cheaper – but quite literally, at what price?

“There were cheaper houses, but there was a significant, even a huge cost with buying them too.

“I don’t want to bash the younger generation – I have children and grandchildren – but what I would like is an understanding, at least a little bit more, about our circumstances.”





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