In the first three quarters of 2020, older homeowners used their property wealth to gift £530m to family and friends, according to Key.

Handouts in Q3 were as high as £133,000 in London.

Help with housing deposits and early inheritances were the main consistent drivers behind this generosity.

Key: £884m equity released in Q3

Over-55s were most generous in Q3 when they gifted £221m to younger members of their families with £100m being pumped into the housing market.

Key believe this to be due to the temporary stamp duty cut to zero for all purchases up to £500,000.

Over 2020, the total amount used for housing deposits was £230m.

Will Hale, chief executive at Key, said: “Helping out family and friends has always been a major motivator for older homeowners using equity release but it is striking to see that more than half a billion has been gifted thus far in 2020.

“Of this, £230m has been used for house deposits and £134m as an early inheritance potentially helping families to meet other needs including home renovations.

“Our data suggests that while customers have focused on using their property wealth to shore up their own finances by repaying debt or boosting their income, they are still looking to support their families rather than spending money on themselves for holidays or even on home and garden improvements.

“The temporary stamp duty cut is an opportunity to ensure that financial help goes further and is likely to mean demand for equity release remains strong as more people want to provide help to family members to get them on, or moving up, the property ladder.

“Retired homeowners, however, remain extremely cautious about their finances – and rightly so, particularly due to the current uncertainty.

“People need to put significant thought into how their financial position may change through later life, including consideration of care needs and other expenses, and therefore whether they can afford to make generous gifts.

“How and when to access housing equity is an important decision and specialist advice is key.”