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Blunkett bows out with bid to boost women’s pensions

The historical pension divide based on gender must be brought to an end through the forthcoming pension reforms, says a Department for Work and Pensions report.

The Women and Pensions report was the brainchild of former Work and Pensions Secretary David Blunkett and was published on Wednesday last week – the day he resigned from the Cabinet.

It found that only 30 per cent of women at state pension age are entitled to a full basic state pension, with women accounting for 1.3 million out of the 1.9 million people who receive the pension credit. It also reveals that men get an average 50 to 100 a week more private pension income than women of the same age.

It also shows that 2.2 million women are not accruing a basic state pension through a combination of low earnings or not being in the workplace.

But it expectes that women will have the same basic state pension entitlement as men by 2025, mainly due to the introduction of home responsibilities’ protection in 1978. Women in their 20s and 30s are as likely as men to contribute to a private pension, although across all ages, only 38 per cent of today’s working age women are contributing to a private pension compared with 46 per cent of men.

The report was commissioned by Blunkett in the run-up to November’s Turner report and the MP for Sheffield Brightside says the work was designed to lay the facts on the table rather than prejudge the Pensions Commission.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary David Laws says the report highlights some of the huge challenges which are fac- ing John Hutton, Blunkett’s replacement as Work and Pensions Secretary, but he is concerned about the strong bias in Government to maintaining the contributory system even though its own evidence shows that it fails women and carers.

Blunkett says: “This analysis will bring into sharp focus the reality facing many women as regards their pension provision. This provides us with a platform that will enable not only Government but also stakeholders and industry to bring forward the solutions that will ensure that the pension system is better able to reflect the world we live in today and the role that women play in it. Fairer outcomes for women are central to the consensus that we are building for a long-term solution to the pension crisis.”


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