State Pension  

Pensions risk as number of unemployed women rises

Pensions risk as number of unemployed women rises

The number of unemployed women in the UK jumped in the fourth quarter of 2017, as the state retirement age for women is pushed back this year.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported there were 689,000 unemployed women between October and December last year – 35,000 more than for July to September 2017 but 30,000 fewer than a year earlier.

During the same quarter, 782,000 men were unemployed, 11,000 more than for July to September 2017 but 94,000 fewer than a year ago.

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The ONS reported UK unemployment rose in the final quarter of last year to 4.4 per cent, with the number of people unemployed having increased by 46,000.

It comes as the state retirement age for women has been increased to age 65 from October this year, in line with the age at which men can receive their state pension.

Steven Cameron, pension director at Aegon, said: "With the state pension age rising to age 66 for both men and women by 2020, there is every likelihood that more people will defer their retirement in line with state pension age increases.

"The good news is these changes in working patterns come at a time when people have the prospect of a longer and healthier retirement.

"The pension freedoms introduced in 2015 have also played a central role in providing flexibility, with around three quarters of respondents in a recent survey saying they believed the freedoms helped them make a better transition from work into retirement."

Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva, pointed out the official employment figures revealed there were more than 10 million workers aged 50 plus, while the number of women aged 16 to 64 who defined themselves as retired had hit a record low of 679,000 – down from a high of 1.11 million in 2008.

He said: "The rise in the state pension age for women since 2010 has been matched by a fall in the number of women defining themselves as 'retired' before the age of 65, a flexibility in employment that deserves recognition."

But many believe women will be worse off in retirement, as highlighted in the Drewberry Wealth and Protection Survey 2017, which flagged women as a "high risk" group when it comes to pensions.

Tom Connor, director at Drewberry, said: "Taken as a group, only 14 per cent of women have personal pensions compared to 24 per cent of men. 

"However, given they represent the majority of the UK's part-time workers, women should be making use of personal pensions far more often than men on average.

"This is to make up for the concerning fact that almost a quarter of employed women are earning less than £11,000 a year, with a great many falling beneath the £10,000 a year earning ceiling for auto-enrolment."

New research published today (21 February) by Just Group revealed pensioner households missed out on an average income of £1,013 as they failed to claim their full benefits entitlement.

Just's eighth annual State Benefits Study found that of pensioner homeowners entitled to receive benefits, four in 10, or 42 per cent, failed to claim anything and two in 10 (19 per cent) have claimed but received too little.