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Women face £185k gender pension gap

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Young women need to save an extra £185,000 to reach the same retirement income as men, according to Scottish Widows.

The retirement specialists found that women will need £100,000 to bridge the savings gap, another £50,000 to cover longer life expectancy and £35,000 to pay for associated care needs. This means women need to save £210 more a month from the age 25 until the day they retire.

Scottish Widows’ Women & Retirement report has been running each year since 2006. This year’s study found that women currently in their 20s will have only saved around £250,000 by the time they retire. Men on the other hand will have closer to £350,000 on average.

Added to this, a 25-year-old man today will live to 86 based on current estimates, while a woman can expect to reach the age of 89. With women living three years longer than men, the average woman will need £400,000 in her pension pot to achieve the same level of retirement income as a man with £350,000.

With longer lives comes a greater need for care in older age. Estimates suggest women spend on average 460 days in care homes, while men spend just 100. With the average cost of care £679 a week, this means women can expect to spend £35,000 more than men.

Overall, this means women need to save an extra £185,000 to achieve the same retirement lifestyle as a man. This would require saving an extra £2,500 per year, or £210 every month, from their mid-20s until retirement.

Jackie Leiper, managing director of workplace savings at Scottish Widows, said: “It’s well known that the gender pay gap has a damaging impact on women’s retirement prospects. But women face a double whammy: even if we close the pension saving gender gap, pension equality would still not be achieved, because women need to fund a longer retirement and spend more on associated care costs.

“There are ways to help level the playing field – from enhancing maternity pensions to offering better parental leave and financial support for childcare – so that women are no longer financially penalised for raising a family. Of course, we must also tackle the larger structural issues in our society, like the gender pay gap.”

Jenny Ross, Which? Money editor, said: “These worrying findings reflect Which?’s previous research, which has shown that women face big disparities compared to men when it comes to saving for retirement, with mothers particularly at risk of retiring with smaller pension pots.

“To help address this pension gender gap, Which? recommends that the government should make a lump sum contribution to the pensions of first-time mothers.”