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Self-employed and divorced women ‘lag behind’ in retirement stakes

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Half of women are now saving adequately for their retirement but self-employed and divorced women are slipping behind, according to a report.

Some 52% of women are now putting enough away to fund their retirement compared with 60% of men, and while this is on par with record high levels seen in 2015, the gap has been widening since 2014.

The Scottish Widows Women & Retirement Report in 2014 found 50% of women were saving adequately compared with 55% of men.

This year’s report suggests the changing nature of employment patterns are impacting women’s ability to save for retirement. Nearly 1.5 million women are self-employed, a 22% increase in four years, and twice the rate of self-employed men.

Just over a third (36%) of self-employed women are saving adequately for retirement, compared with 47% of self-employed men.

And 62% of self-employed women claim they don’t think they’ll be able to save any more in the next 12 months.

The report also found that with 16% of women working part-time, many could be missing out on auto-enrolment, which is only triggered when you earn £10,000 a year or more. Even those working at least two jobs are still failing to qualify, Scottish Widows said.

Women also appear to be more negatively impacted by their personal circumstances than men, with only 42% of divorced women saving adequately compared with 47% of divorced men.

Divorced women have a bleak outlook on their financial futures, with seven in 10 (70%) thinking it is unlikely that they will be able to save more in the next 12 months than they do now – compared with an average of 60% of women overall.

Turning to younger women, the research found that 18-29-year-olds are least optimistic about their retirement with a lack of understanding much to blame.

Jackie Leiper, retirement expert at Scottish Widows, said: “It is encouraging to see that over half of women are making sufficient savings towards their retirement, but a growing savings gap persists in the UK. It’s vital that we address this to ensure women feel reassured about their finances and prepared for retirement, whether they are self-employed, work for a large employer, are divorced, married or single.”

Leiper said that more needs to be done to ensure that auto-enrolment doesn’t marginalise female savers who may miss out if they earn under the £10,000 threshold.

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