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Women more likely to rely on state pension alone than men

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Written by: Emma Lunn
11/06/2021
Research from Barnett Waddingham has raised concerns about women’s financial stability in later life compared to men.

It found that three in 10 (30%) women do not have any private or workplace pensions, and will receive a state pension only at retirement. This is almost double the amount of men (17%) in the same position – showing that women have less savings and are less prepared for a financially stable retirement.

The study found that the pensions gap widens even more later in life. Almost two fifths (38%) of women over 55 will rely on a state pension only, compared to 17% of men over 55.

The study shows that auto-enrolment is having more of an impact on younger workers, with 59% of millennial women (age 25 to 34) having a workplace or occupational pension, slightly more than the 58% of millennial men who do so.

It’s after the age of 35 that the pensions gap begins to diverge. By ages 45 to 54, 14% more men than women hold a workplace pension, at 67% compared to 53%. This suggests that auto-enrolment stops being as effective for women in mid-life, perhaps as a consequence of having children leading to part-time or lower-paid work.

Amanda Latham, policy and strategy lead at Barnett Waddingham, said: “The findings of our research are stark; women are twice as likely than men to be walking into retirement with insufficient funds. For many, a state pension alone is simply not enough to cover the costs of a comfortable retirement.

“Without the additional support of a private or workplace pension, people could face financial instability in later life or a total change in lifestyle. While auto-enrolment is getting more younger women on the path to retirement savings, women in mid- and later-life are more likely to be disadvantaged. For example, our previous study into the gender pensions gap found that women taking a career break to have children are more likely to fall behind and end up with less in their pension pot at retirement.

“To turn the dial and close the gender pensions gap, we need to be overhauling the UK pension system which is intrinsically biased towards men. Policymakers and employers need to think about how to introduce measures that will target women who are not topping up their pension at crucial stages of life – whether it be reviewing auto-enrolment rules, or encouraging employers to improve pay and benefits during and after a career break.”

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