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Housing wealth ‘won’t solve the pensions crisis’

Most people with low pension savings will not be able to rely on housing equity to adequately top up their retirement income, according to a report by Royal London.

Equity release schemes enable homeowners over the age of 55 to access their housing wealth.

However, Royal London has warned that for the 12 million people who are not saving enough into their pensions, this will not be enough to ensure a comfortable retirement.

The report analysed data from the Office for National Statistics, which polled 7,000 pensioners in the UK and found that those with lower pensions tended to have lower housing equity.

While pensioners across the UK as a whole have an average of £234,000 in housing equity, the poorest fifth of pensioners have an average of around £150,000.

Even for those with higher housing wealth, the report pointed out that equity release providers will often only allow a pensioner to borrow around a third of the value of their property.

Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London, said:

"It might be tempting to think that as long as [undersavers] are homeowners in retirement then they can top up meagre pensions by using the value of their home.

"But this research shows that even owning a home is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for those with poor pensions."

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