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Women retire on £100,000 less than men

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Written by: Emma Lunn
08/03/2021
A woman in her 20s would have to work an extra 37 years to close the pension gap, according to calculations by Scottish Widows on International Women’s Day.

Lower average earnings, working part-time, and taking time out to care for families mean women would take nearly four decades to catch up.

Scottish Widows worked out that men save a typical £354,000 in total over a lifetime, while women only have £254,000 to retire on.

The £100,000 difference highlights the gender pensions gap and that there is a long way to go until the gap is closed.

Young women were already on the wrong side of the gender pensions gap, which has only widened as a result of the pandemic.

More than a third (36%) under the age of 25 work in hardest hit sectors such as hospitality and retail, and almost half (49%) have been furloughed.

Any reduction in hours or a career break will have an impact on pension outcomes. For those working part-time or on reduced hours, this can mean lower contributions or missing out on auto-enrolment.

A separate study by Fidelity International found that nearly a quarter (23%) of women have experienced a fall in their income over the past 12 months, typically earning £463 less per month than usual during the pandemic.

Jackie Leiper, managing director of pensions at Scottish Widows, said: “Women were already facing systemic challenges when saving for retirement. We know that young women have been some of the hardest hit by the short-term financial impact of the pandemic and this has only exacerbated the challenge of reaching pensions parity. At the same time, caring responsibilities and high childcare costs are keeping women out of the workforce, lowering their contributions and denting their pension pots.

“Whilst we can’t change societal norms overnight, progress is still possible to help young women achieve a comfortable retirement. By taking control of their contributions and increasing them as early as possible, young women stand a fighting chance of improving their long-term savings outlook.”

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said: “Our research has shown that women face significant disparities when it comes to saving for retirement, with mothers particularly at risk of retiring with smaller pensions – potentially tens of thousands less over their careers than men and women working full-time.

“To address this imbalance, the government should make a contribution to the pensions of first-time parents to ensure they can retire with an adequate pension pot.”

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