PPI: Huge gulf in pension savings remains despite reforms


Despite automatic enrolment and changes to the state pension, women have just half the pension savings of men, according to the Pensions Policy Institute.

In the third of the think-tank’s studies of under-pensioned workers, it says the new state pension and introduction of the national living wage will reduce the savings gap.

However, the study shows women have an average of £7,500 in savings in defined contribution schemes, compared to £14,500 for men.

In defined benefit schemes, women have around £32,000, compared to £62,900 for men.

In addition, self-employed workers have 4.8 per cent less in DC savings and 12.7 per cent in DB savings than average pensioners.

The PPI says: “Once the new state pension has been phased in, after a lengthy transitional period, there will no longer be a significant differences in state pension income between under-pension groups and the average for all pensions.

But it warns lower private pension saving and income levels among the under-pensioned will continue.

It says: “These mainly arise from particulary labour market characteristics found more prevalently among these groups.”

The report says differences in pension income is driven by differences in the labour market. Disabled people, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, carers and women are more likely to be unemployed or have lower incomes, for instance.

The PPI says: “The majority of factors [unemployment, low wages, part-time work] cannot be tackled through pensions policy, as they involve labour market, social and legal issues.

“Reducing inequalities in retirement therefore would involve tackling inequalities in working-age which lie behind differences in labour market characteristics.

It adds this would involve a “joint effort from Government departments, employers, social services, regulatory bodies and community support groups”.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady says: “Today’s 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 report is sponsored by The People’s Pension, Age UK, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the TUC.