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Women have a pension savings gap too

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the underpensioned 2016, report, women, BME workers, Carers, pension gapWomen, carers, BME workers and self-employed at pension disadvantage.

Women have barely half the pension savings of men, according to a new TUC-sponsored report published recently.

The study, carried out by the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI), shows that women have, on average, £7,500 in savings in defined contribution schemes, compared to £14,500 for men.

And women typically have £32,000 in pension savings in defined benefit schemes, whereas men have £62,900.

This comes on top of a Scottish Widows report in 2013 which said that women saved an average £182 per month compared to a male average of £260 per month, and with women born in the 1950s facing severe financial hardship over pension age changes.

The new report, ‘The Under-pensioned 2016‘, has revealed large pension disadvantages for women, ethnic minority workers, carers and the self-employed.

The findings show:

WomenAs well as having barely half the pension savings of men, women also receive a far smaller state pension. Women receive 13 per cent (£1,092) a year less than the average state pension and 25 per cent (£2,548) a year less than men get from their state pensions.

CarersCarers typically have just £5,800 in savings in defined contribution schemes – 44.8 per cent below average. And carers have only £6,000 amassed in defined benefit schemes – a massive 86.2 per cent below average.

BME workers An Indian worker typically has less than half (£22,100) the defined benefit pension savings of a white worker (£45,500). Black pensioners receive 16 per cent (£1,404) less than the average for all pensioners and 20 per cent (£1,820) less than white pensioners in State Pension.

Self-employed – Self-employed workers typically have 4.8 per cent less in defined contribution savings and 12.7 per cent in defined benefit savings than average pensioners.

The Under-pensioned 2016 report says reasons for the disparities include workplace discrimination, job segregation and the lack of flexible working.

And the report warns that despite recent changes to state and workplace pensions, these stark divisions will remain unless the government takes further action.

It says that workers from under-pensioned groups are less likely to be eligible for auto-enrolment into workplace pensions than the wider population, typically because their wages are too low.

And it explores the potential impact on under-pensioned individuals of lowering the £10,000 earnings trigger for auto-enrolment, increasing contribution rates and dropping the system of banding that restricts the income on which pension contributions are based.

The TUC believes that these are key policies that the government should consider when it comes to review auto-enrolment in 2017.

The Pensions Policy Institute launched the report officially at the TUC’s Congress House headquarters, and among the speakers was Shadow Pensions Minister Angela Rayner.

Rayner told the Morning Star that “Workplace discrimination against women and ethnic minorities is getting worse as austerity bites and wages worsen.”

Peter, a “stereotypical” white male, would receive £297 a week in state and private pensions because of contributions made by him and his boss totalling 8 per cent of his qualifying full-time salary.

Bangladeshi mother Ayesha, another hypothetical example in the report, would work for a maximum two days a week from the age of 40 until retirement. She would not qualify for contribution enrolment because of her very low earnings.

She would receive £156 per week — 47 per cent less than Peter — from state pension and pension credits from benefits.

Disabled worker Deborah would receive £234 per week — 21 per cent less than Peter — after giving up full-time work for five years due to work-related stress and would opt out of contributions due to in-work poverty.

And self-employed Sayeed, of Pakistani origin, would receive £209 per week — 30 per cent less than Peter. He would have been earning £14,628 a year until joining the family business aged 40.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “[This] report is a sobering reminder of Britain’s stark pension divide.

“Everyone should have the chance of a decent retirement income, not just men in full-time employment.

“Women, carers and ethnic minority workers will continue to have a tough time in old age if swift action is not taken.

“We urgently need a debate on how unions, government and employers can work together to can build on the success of auto-enrolment.

“And we mustn’t shy away from looking at the underlying problems in our labour market that are driving these inequalities in pension saving.”

The head of Policy Research at the PPI, Daniela Silcock, said: “…The underlying causes of retirement income disparities cannot be tackled solely through pensions policy.

“They involve labour-market, social and regulatory issues related to inequalities experienced during working-life.

“Therefore, addressing ongoing differences in private pension income would involve a joint effort from government departments, employers, social services, regulatory bodies and community support groups.”

To read the full report, click here.

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