Mind the pensions gender gap

Mind the pensions gender gap

Only 80,000 women will receive the full flat-rate state pension in the first three years of implementation when the new rate is introduced in April 2016.

Figures from the department for work and pensions revealed that up to 1.2m people are expected to claim when the flat-rate is introduced next April.

While 405,000 are expected to claim in 2016 only 20,000 women will get the full rate, compared with 130,000 men.

Article continues after advert

Adrian Watson, Brewin Dolphin’s divisional director of financial planning, said: “One of the reasons for the disparity is the difference in work patterns, but women can continue to save up to £3,600 a year into a personal pension, of which £720 will be tax relief from the government – even when they have no income.”

He warned that women have less saved towards their private pensions than men and are more likely to have a career break, which can greatly affect their retirement provisions as savings into workplace pensions cease.

Mr Watson said: “This would be a missed opportunity. Having two pots, rather than one, can be tax efficient on retirement because both will have a tax-free allowance and lower rate tax bands. Splitting pensions between two could, therefore, avoid paying higher rates of tax on some of the income.”

Research by life and pension provider Prudential in March showed that women retiring in 2015 expect a retirement income 25 per cent lower than men, and 21 per cent of women were making no contributions to either a work or private pension, compared with 9 per cent of men.

Women’s salaries may also be lower, according to Opportunity Now, a campaign group calling for gender equality, which said an average woman working between the ages of 18 and 59 could expect to earn a cumulative £351,000 less than a man over the course of their working lives.

According to a 116-page document earlier this year from the European Commission, Visions for Gender Equality, the average gap in pension income between men and women was around 40 per cent.

Mr Watson added that if savings patterns were anything to go by, the gap was unlikely to narrow.

Adviser View

James Garman, financial adviser at Nottingham-based Retirement Specialists, said: “The figures that suggest women will not get the full rate are quite surprising, but is something we have little control over. It is out of our hands.

“The important thing is to identify any potential shortfall before you retire and do something about it. You can get a state pension forecast and sort it out before it is too late. You can make personal provision, through an Isa, pension or general investment.”