Adrian Boulding: State pension age equalisation is far from equal

Adrian Boulding 480 2012The Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign is bringing inherent unfairness in the treatment of the genders to light, Adrian Boulding writes

Next month will see the women’s state pension age rise by another year to 65, reaching parity with men for the first time in a generation.

But SPA equalisation merely papers over the financial inequality that exists between these genders as they look to retirement.

That chasm has been vociferously articulated by the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign over the past three years. The causes are deep-seated and the numbers do not lie.

We recently published research which found baby-boomer women were increasingly vulnerable to poverty in retirement compared to men of the same age.

Already, more than half predict working beyond age 65 – 10 per cent full-time and 44 per cent part-time. On average, that cohort plans to work for 4.3 years longer than the new SPA – almost 10 years longer than they originally anticipated.

According to Institute for Fiscal Studies research carried out last year, 60- to 62-year-old women with a delayed SPA were receiving £44 per week more in earnings than in 2016.

But despite this apparent pay rise, these women were actually worse off due to a loss of £74 per week in state pension payments and other benefits not accessed until SPA.

Steve Bee: Why still no justice for Waspi women?  

This is austerity in action, with the government saving £4.2bn from their state pension and benefits, while garnering a further £900m from income tax and National Insurance on their extra earnings.

So women are working deeper into their 60s than men, yet still appear to be worse off. Indeed, our study found a fifth of baby-boomer women had no personal pension provision at all, versus 9 per cent of men.

Of those who do have pensions, fewer have access to more generous defined benefit schemes – 43 per cent versus 54 per cent of men.

They fare little better in terms of defined contribution pension access, with just 11 per cent of baby-boomer women having such a scheme, compared with 19 per cent of men. Women also appear more at risk of making poor at-retirement choices than men. They have less access to financial advice – 17 per cent versus 23 per cent of men – and appear less engaged in understanding pension freedoms.

According to the government, two thirds of Pension Wise appointments are for male retirees.

Meanwhile, twice as many women have already dipped into home equity by downsizing to help fund retirement. Ten per cent of those we questioned had already downsized to help fund retirement, versus 5 per cent of men, and a larger percentage of women were open to this idea than men – 22 per cent versus 20 per cent of male respondents.

There is a deep-seated gender bias at work here, leaving women more vulnerable to poverty in their old age than men. Rising divorce rates among baby-boomers have not helped. We also need to remember women live longer than men. All this means advisers must recommend a much safer and lower-risk strategy for many female clients.

Adrian Boulding is director of retirement strategy at Dunstan Thomas



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There are 21 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I agree with you Adrian.

    Unfortunately most of the comments about women and pensions, that are posted on Money Marketing, are disbelieving of the evidence, don’t seem to appreciate the difficulty many women have with pensions and, in some cases, just don’t seem to look on women as equal human beings. They think they are a different species altogether.

    • …In much the same way that WASPI supporters seem to see women born after 1st January 1960 as a different species altogether.

      • That’s just ridiculous. Nothing is stopping 1960’s women from setting up a pressure group, if they want to.

        • Highlighting the plight of women born after 1959 qualifies you as a “misogynist”.

          Telling women born outside of the 1950s that it’s every woman for themselves is fair game.

          “Ridiculous” is indeed the right word…

    • Actually Patrick, au contrair. What I see and what my personal viewpoint is, that I see some very vocal women and their supporters wanting all the benefits of equality, with none of the drawbacks.

      Women have had utterly equal access to advice, they have had state pensions paid to them for on average 8 years longer than their male counterparts. They have had plenty of income for at least the last 30-35 years, however they CHOSE not to put money into pensions.

      Ironically younger women are now apparently saving on average more than their male counterparts, should we be claiming that is unfair?

      I would also suggest that Adrian is ignoring facts that do not support his postulation, such as ONS figures showing significantly more men still working at age 70 than women.

      A significant part of “equality” is about taking responsibility for yourself, something many of these vocal women seem to be utterly unprepared to do.

      Instead what they advocate is special treatment for them, with the bill passed to the younger generations.

      In effect, they have voted for politicians who have maxed out the credit cards and now expect the younger generations to give them even more credit, despite the fact that the younger generations are paying vastly more tax than those who still want more ever did at their ages..

      Then many wonder why so many younger people are getting resentful of them…

      What on earth do you/they expect?

  2. I’m increasingly seeing this publication as politically motivated, ideologically blinded and dishonest. The refusal to look at evidence is worrying. I’ll give it a few more weeks and if it carries on, I’ll be unsubscribing.

  3. Adrian makes some valid points, but the WASPI reference is a red herring.

    The Turner review brought many of these issues to light back in 2004-6, ultimately leading to the 2007 Pensions Act. While the review proposed improvements to help women build up pension provision, it notably agreed with the equalisation of state pension ages between men and women, as well as the eventual increase in SPA to 68.

    It’s clear that there are specific groups of women (and men) who are poorly served by the current pension system, and who should be given greater assistance. WASPI hasn’t moved us any closer to this though; if anything it’s moved us further away by shifting the focus onto a single cohort (with no logical basis), and promoting a retrogade move back to pensions of some kind for women from age 60 (for 1950s women at least).

    I think most people would support sensible proposals to help women (and men) out of poverty in later life.

  4. Evidence comes in many forms. Only this month the Adam Smith Institute commented that: “The key thing to note is that women, even given equal retirement ages, tend to receive their pensions for about three years longer than men. Where there is still a gap in retirement ages based on gender this gap expands even wider. But also women are disproportionately represented in the public sector, the one remaining place where the very much more valuable defined benefit pension still exists. There are reasonable estimates that such pensions add as much as 30 per cent to public sector pay.”
    The writer states (without apparent corroboration): “So women are working deeper into their 60s than men …” – but the latest comparison I can locate states, “Office for National Statistics data reveals that 15.5% of men are still in employment at the age of 70 (against 11.3% of women).
    It`s understandable to wish to argue a case using statistics, but skewing these to make a point only undermines that argument.

    • In truth I suspect that much like much of the normal MSM ignores facts that do not back up their assertions, MM seems to be having lots of articles now being written that ignore inconvenient facts and try to push some form of political agenda, other than showing and helping the industry how to help people engage with their finances, which is the only way they will ever truly be better off.

      If MM carries on going this way, I won’t bother reading it anymore, we get enough silly postulations in the normal press, especially at the moment.

  5. Women have the same access as men, they just don’t pay into pensions at the same level and don’t engage as much. Men have been on the receiving end of the unfairness in the state pension system since it began, but that is an un-PC view that will no doubt be slated. I don’t understand why women want equality, but when they get it they don’t want it when it does not suit them

    • That’s because many of them don’t appear to actually want equality. From observation and based on the evidence, many of them want all of the advantages they used to have, as well as all the advantages that “equality” can give them.

      In simple terms, that seems to mean that a significant % of them seem to want superiority not equality.

      You’ve only got to look at the name WASPI, look at what they want and realise that the name should be changed to WASPE, i.e Women against state pension equality.

    • You do know the Adam Smith Institute is a right wing entity, don’t you Philip.

      • That was supposed to be for Philip Dodd, by the way.

      • I’m curious as to what that has to do with the data based argument being made?

        Or are you saying that anyone whose viewpoints could be viewed as “right” leaning should be automatically be dismissed, because they are right wing?

        Would that also mean that anyone who is “left” leaning should automatically be believed?

  6. The problem here is that WASPI aren’t anti-poverty, they’re anti-equalisation for their specific cohort. When the idea of means-tested support for those really struggling with the delays was raised, the leadership flat-out objected to it because it wasn’t exactly what they wanted, i.e. a reversal of the age increase for all 1950s women but with no concern at all for 1960s and later women or for men of any age.

    I’ve said before that it is a tragedy that poor people in this country are often callously abandoned by the state, but the solution is not to give 1950s women a state pension from age 60 – creating a horrifically unfair cliff-edge between 31 December 1959 and 1 January 1960. More is clearly needed if the goal is to address later-life poverty. WASPI aren’t fighting that battle though.

  7. The worst off WASPIs and the ones in bad health who genuinely can’t carry on working will get other state benefits until state pension age anyway. There are always unfair situations arising eg kids born before a certain date didn’t get their child trust fund payment, people born a little too late didn’t get to take their benefits at 50 or have pension freedoms as an option. As the article says, women have less pension assets, so that would explain the lower usage of Pensionwise not institutional sexims. Auto-enrolment should help close the pensions gap plus successive generations of women are less expectant of State or Spouses to look after them financially for a whole lifetime.

  8. After reading about seven or eight other comments I think I was bang on with my first one. Unfortunately.

    • Strange how you make comments such as this Patrick, people then come back at you with fact based arguments, with evidence, conclusions etc and your response is?

      Do you come up with facts to back up your assertions? Do you postulate alternative conclusions to the available data?

      Nope, you just continue with the veiled insults approach.

      How many people do you think have ever been persuaded to change their minds by being insulted (whether veiled or not)?

      Try persuading people, try debating things with them, you might get some traction if you did…

  9. Pensions have long been unfair to men and this remains the case, equal pension age means larger payments for longer lived women.

    No one doubts the difficulty some this particular demographic face, but they are not the only underprivileged group, and we don’t live in the Soviet Union.

    The extent to that this is “unequal” is debatable. But it is clear that they’ve been abandoned by the current generation of self serving so called feminists.

  10. The one true inequality is not equalising pension age. Women have been poorly served by institutions for many years – and since institutions are simply a function of the people that form them, they have been poorly served by, in the main, men. Institutional sexism is a historical fact.

    However equity within a pension system surely has to be based on the total taken out of it – and with the new state pension system I believe that women now get a far more equal deal on a ‘per annum’ basis than previously, despite differences in work records, and due to longevity differences get the money for longer, so even on an equal retirement age basis I believe the evidence is that the Government spends more money per capita on whole of life pensions for women than men. That isn’t equality – but it doesn’t appear from my review of the evidence to favour men.

    Where women definitely suffer is that the overwhelming majority of advisers are men over 50. Consequently advice at divorce, and advice at retirement are significantly less attractive to women than men – and this does create a genuine difference in outcomes. This is not an easy fix, as the industry is still deeply unattractive to many women, and whilst women advisers are increasing in numbers, they aren’t exactly storming the ramparts. Which is what is needed.

    What is also needed is for ALL of us to stop acting like spoiled children. Making comments that make you sound like an entitled sexist does not appear to be exclusive to either gender.

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