‘Women need to save 19 years more to get the same pension as men’

A new NOW: Pensions report on the gender pensions gap looks at what can be done to close the gap in retirement earnings for men and women.

carer helping older woman getting dressed

 

For women to retire with the same amount of money in their pension savings as a man, they would need to work and save for an extra 19 years on average, according to a new report out today.

The 2024 gender pensions gap report by NOW: Pensions, carried out in partnership with the Pensions Policy Institute, shows women retiring at 67 will have saved an average of £69,000, compared with £205,000 for men.

It says that women make up 79% of workers who earn less than the automatic enrolment earnings threshold – this means that 1.9 million women in employment are not automatically enrolled into a workplace pension. Automatic enrolment also only starts from age 22.  The report calculates that if both age and earning thresholds were removed from automatic enrolment, an additional 885,000 young women in employment would become eligible for a workplace pension.

It says that part of the issue is caring responsibilities falling more on women. On average, women spend 10 years away from the workforce to raise families or take on other caring responsibilities. This career gap, exacerbated by childcare costs, means that, by their late 50s, women will have built up just 62% of the pension wealth of men.

Moreover, given women live on average around seven years longer than men, women’s pension wealth needs to go further. The report says two thirds of pensioners currently in poverty are women, with single women making up half of this number.

The report calls for five key actions from policymakers:

  • Removing the £10,000 auto enrolment trigger – this is particularly important for women who often have lower paid roles or may be doing a variety of part-time roles, each under the threshold
  • Removing the lower earnings limit
  • Introducing a family carer’s top-up. This would see the government pay the equivalent of an employer’s contribution into carers’ pensions at the same level as the National Living Wage.
  • Considering pension pots on divorce
  • Making sure affordable childcare is available for those who want to return to work

Lizzy Holliday, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, NOW: Pensions, says: “Policymakers have made important decisions in recent years which are already making a substantial difference to the way workers and their employers are providing for retirement. Yet, as our research shows, the scale of the gender pensions gap remains vast and will require bolder policy actions. Some of the solutions are broader than traditional pension policy. Childcare and gender pay gap issues must be given the urgent attention they require. But setting out the roadmap for the future of auto enrolment including tackling the difficult issue of adequacy in retirement – which affects women disproportionately given lower pension wealth – should be front and centre of next steps.”

 



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