Gender pensions gap fears prompt women to take pension matters into their own hands

Published by Amanda Latham on

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  • Amanda Latham

    Amanda Latham

    Associate and Policy & Strategy Lead

  • The reality of the gender pensions gap is sinking in as UK women take matters into their own hands to avoid being worse off financially in retirement than their male counterparts.

    According to our latest research – following directly on from our recently released Bridging the gap: the gender pension gap and what can be done about it – over two in five (44%) working aged women with a workplace and/or a private pension have taken action regarding their pension in light of hearing about the gender pensions gap. This is despite the problem being a consequence of an outdated UK pensions system that is intrinsically biased toward men and is failing to support women. 

    Most commonly, women have increased their monthly contributions into their pension, with 14% of women revealing that they’ve done this already. This is highest amongst those aged 18-34, at 19%, and is higher amongst those working full time (16%) than part time (14%). 

    Having heard about the gender pensions gap, other women have taken steps to engage in conversation with both loved ones and professionals. A tenth (9%) of women have spoken to their partner about pension savings and the pensions gap, while 8% have sought financial advice to increase retirement savings. Women with a private pension/ SIPP are much more likely to have sought financial advice, at 13%. 

    "We need to consider fiscal, behavioural, and societal issues collectively, and work to create a more robust and inclusive pensions framework that offers fairer solutions for all."
    Amanda Latham Policy and Strategy Lead, Barnett Waddingham

    The research also determined what steps women are planning on taking in future with regards to their pension. Over half (55%) of women plan on taking some action in light of the gender pensions gap, showing that by and large women are taking pension matters into their own hands. 

    A fifth (20%) of women are planning to increase monthly contributions into their pension, in order to build more substantial retirement savings. And 14% of women plan on seeking financial advice.

     

    Actions taken by non-retired women

     Actions non-retired women with pensions have done, or plan to do, as a result of the gender pensions gap Steps I have taken already regarding my pension Steps I plan to take regarding my pension
    Increase my monthly contributions into my pension 14% 20%
    Put a lump sum into my pension 4% 9%
    Speak to my employer/ pension provider about increasing my contributions 8% 9%
    Seek financial advice to increase my retirement savings 8% 14%
    Speak to friends and family about pension savings/ the gender pensions gap 8% 8%
    Speak to my partner about pension savings/ the gender pensions gap 9% 9%
    Reduce my monthly contributions into my pension 4% 3%
    Support campaigns that call on the Government to change policies to support women's pensions 9% 10%
    N/A - None of the above 56% 45%

     

    One tenth (9%) of women have also supported recent campaigns that call on the Government to change policies to support women’s pensions – however, this leaves 91% who have not, indicating a lack of awareness or understanding of the campaigns calling to improve women’s retirement wealth.  

    While the onus to close the gender pensions gap does not lie on individuals alone, 45% of women are not planning to do anything with their pension – this could indicate that they are already on track to a desired retirement lifestyle, or, and perhaps more likely, that there remains a lack of education and knowledge surrounding the disparity in retirement wealth and how to fix it. 

    According to Barnett Waddingham’s recent gender pensions gap report, the UK pensions system is failing women – as women have 25%-45% less in their pension pots at retirement than men.

    Amanda Latham, Policy & Strategy Lead at Barnett Waddingham, said: “Recent months have shed light on the gender pensions gap – leaving women dangerously underprepared financially for retirement – and it seems that this is not falling on deaf ears. A proportion of women have acted already to either build their savings or seek support from professionals or loved ones, and even more are planning on taking significant steps to close the gap themselves. While this is encouraging, it’s critical that the onus for change does not fall on individuals alone – the pension system is intrinsically biased towards men, creating a stark disparity in wealth at retirement that needs to be addressed at its core.  

    “It’s therefore not enough to simply say that women need to contribute more to close the gap. Instead, we need to consider fiscal, behavioural, and societal issues collectively, and work to create a more robust and inclusive pensions framework that offers fairer solutions for all. For almost a third of women relying on a state pension alone, the difference between a financially stable retirement and a total change in lifestyle could be severe, so a great deal more support and education is needed to reduce this figure.”
     

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    Bridging the gap: the gender pension gap and what can be done about it

    Our report reveals the intrinsic biases of the pensions system and explores how the stark disparity in wealth at retirement between men and women could be addressed.

    The research