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‘Women heading for retirement poverty’

Tackling unfairness in women’s pensions will be a central plank in the reform of pensions for both sexes, according to Bar-oness Hollis of Heigham.

Speaking at the launch of a Scottish Widows What Women Want report at the House of Lords, Hollis said that with an increasing number of men looking after children or older relatives as well as a general need for more flexibility in modern life, getting women’s pensions right will benefit everyone.

Hollis said the industry needs to come up with designs for products that will benefit women, making them flexible, transparent and safe while also being profitable for providers.

She said the basic state pension needs to be adopted to take into account the specific needs of women but that is not enough, with the second tier also needing reform to ensure comfort for women.

Widows’ report warns of an impoverished retirement for women, with only 15 per cent of women with children aged up to 5 contributing to a pension compared with 50 per cent of men.

It also shows that 31 per cent of men between 30 and 50 say their wife is financially dep-endent on them, rising to 41 per cent over 50, while at the same time over half of all marriages end in divorce.

Scottish Widows head of pension market development Ian Naismith says the industry must focus on designing and marketing products with women in mind.

He says as well as convincing women to save more, a major change is needed within both state and private pensions to make it more feasible and attractive for women to save.

Equal Opportunities Commission acting chairwoman Jenny Watson also addressed the event, emphasising the need for universal entitlement to the state pension and adding that more men are taking on fam-ily responsibilities and falling foul of the current system.

Hollis said: “Increasingly, men’s lives are coming to look like women’s, with more time being taken out to care for family and increased long- evity. Getting pensions right for women will help get pensions right for everyone.”

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