The number of insolvencies amongst women aged 65 and over increased from 1,109 in 2008 to 2,082 in 2018 – an increase of 88% in a decade, according to new analysis from Rest Less, a jobs, volunteering and advice site for the over 50s.

The insolvency rate of this group increased from 0.02% to 0.04% in the same time period – the biggest increase across all age groups. Insolvencies amongst men aged 65 and above also increased by 29% in the years between 2008 and 2018.

Rest Less’s analysis is based on bespoke data provided in January 2020 to Rest Less by the government’s Insolvency Service under a Freedom of Information request, and looks at insolvency figures by age group.

The analysis, highlighted in Table 1, shows:

  • The number of insolvencies amongst women increased significantly in every age group between 2008 and 2018 but the jump was biggest amongst the over 65s (88%) followed by women aged between 45-54 (69%) and the over 55s more generally (69%)
  • Insolvencies amongst men did not increase across the board in the same way.  The only increases were amongst men aged 65 and above (29%), 18-24 year olds (34%) and 25-34 year olds (3%) 
  • Across all other male age groups, the number of insolvencies dropped in the years between 2008 and 2018: 35 to 44 years olds (-23%), 55 to 64 year olds (-11%), 45 to 54 year olds (-10%)
  • In 2008, the insolvency rate of men aged over 55 was double the rate of women (0.12% versus 0.06%).  By 2018, this gap narrowed considerably with the insolvency rate of women aged over 55 increasing to 0.08% whilst the rate for men dropped to 0.10%.
  • Across all age groups, the overall insolvency rate of women has rapidly overtaken the rate amongst men between 2008 and 2018. In 2008 the male insolvency rate was 56% higher than that of women but by 2018, this had completely reversed with the female rate of insolvency 14% higher than that of men.

Commenting on the analysis, Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, said: “The rapidly increasing rate of insolvency amongst all women is cause for concern but is particularly concerning amongst women over 55, many of whom are already at higher risk of finding themselves in a financially precarious position: the over 55s are more likely to be made redundant, to be in long term unemployment and to face age discrimination in the recruitment process when applying for jobs. Women in their 50s and 60s are also more likely to have taken time out of the workplace and to have caring responsibilities, whether for elder relatives, partners or grandchildren. Add to this, the wide gulf in private pension savings between men and women – due to 40 years of a historical gender pay gap – and it’s no surprise to see why insolvencies amongst women over 65 are rising faster than other groups.

‘All these factors can contribute to significant financial hardship for this hardworking group of individuals, yet with an ageing population, this is an area that will affect us all. We’d like to see more holistic support being provided and focussed around later life re-training, encouraging all-age apprenticeships and common place age diversity policies aimed at supporting this often overlooked, but talented and hardworking group of individuals.”

Table 1: Insolvency Counts and Rates Amongst Age Groups, 2008 & 2018

Notes to Editors:

The data was provided by the government’s Insolvency Service under a Freedom of Information request for the breakdown of individual insolvencies by age and gender in England and Wales between 2000 and 2018.

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