UK pension system remains unequal

1 November 2018

UK pension system remains unequal November will see a landmark in the UK pension system when the age at which women can claim their state pension equalises with men's at 65. However, while on paper this may portray equality, retirement outcomes are much more unequal.

A new study by Prospect, the trade union for scientists, engineers, managers and other specialists has revealed that the gap between men and women's pension income is nearly 40%, more than double that of the gender pay gap. The study examined data from the 2016-17 Department for Work and Pensions family resources survey and considered all retirement outcomes including state, occupational and personal pensions. The conclusion was that a pension income for female retirees was nearly 40% lower than for men that year, or about £7000.

Commenting on the research, Sue Ferns, the deputy general secretary of Prospect said: "These figures reveal the shocking scale of the gender pension gap and clearly demonstrate the need for urgent action to address this issue."

The research by Prospect is the latest study to highlight the pensions gap between men and women. A study by Which? in 2017 found that women received an average of £126.45 in state pension, compared to an average of £153.99 for males. In October, another study by a leading pension provider found that on average, men's "drawdown" pensions pots were on average about £212,000 — compared with £132,000 for women.

Commenting on the Prospect study, Malcolm McLean, former head of the Pensions Advisory Service said, "Men and women cannot yet be considered equal in terms of pension outcomes. They have equal rights with men towards the state pension, although because of past history they have yet to achieve full parity in all respects."

In a statement responding to the new study, the Department of Work and Pensions said that its reforms were helping millions of women and were helping to reduce the historic gender divide in pensions income. It said, "Through automatic enrolment the number of women in the private sector without a workplace pension has fallen from three in five in 2012, to one in five in 2017."

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