The debate on how to close the nation’s mammoth savings gap continues to rage – and regularly at the fore of that debate is the issue of pension provision for women. Much of the recent debate around the Pensions Bill focussed on the acceleration of the increase in state pension age to 66, which would have led to many women receiving their pensions two years later than they previously expected. A late amendment reduced the impact on that group.
Proposed changes to public sector pensions also have a significant impact on many women, who are more likely than men to be employed in public services, especially as they near retirement. The introduction of automatic enrolment and NEST are expected to benefit many women who currently have no pension provision.
This year’s Scottish Widows Women and Pensions Report is therefore more topical than ever. While some progress has been made since we published our first report in 2005 – as you will find in this document – much remains to be done, particularly with a growing generation gap to go with the existing savings gap. Women in their fifties may be far better prepared than last year (but although they continue to lag their male counterparts) younger women are being left behind.
While younger women may naturally look to their mothers’ experiences when starting to plan for retirement, the circumstances of the two generations are very different. Younger women are more likely to receive a higher level of education than their mothers and earn comparable amounts to men, but are less likely to benefit from defined benefit pensions and need to take control of their own retirement.
There is clearly much to chew over and more to be done to prevent a trend developing into a more serious issue.
We hope you find this year’s report interesting and informative reading but more importantly that the Report continues to raise awareness of the issues around pensions and long term saving for women.
We are very grateful to pensions industry expert Rachel Vahey for her help and expertise in preparing this report and also to the Pensions Minister Steve Webb, MP and former shadow Pensions Minister (now shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury) Rachel Reeves MP and Hilary Evans, Head of Public Affairs Age UK, for their insightful contributions.
Insurance, Lloyds Banking Group