Gender pensions gap still waits for a solution

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Women would have to work an extra 19 years to close the gender pensions gap, research by master trust Now Pensions and the Pensions Policy Institute has found, as they retire with a fraction of the average pension wealth accumulated by men.
The Gender Pension Gap report, published on Wednesday, shows that by the time women reach a retirement age of 67, they will on average have pension savings of £69,000 – a shocking £136,000 less than the average man, who will have saved £205,000 over that period. 
About £39,000 in lost pension savings is attributable to career breaks for providing free care. Women spend an average 10 years away from the workforce to raise children or take on other caring responsibilities. 

Given their lower savings, and lifespans exceeding those of men by about seven years on average, two-thirds of pensioners currently in poverty are women, with single women making up half of these, said Now Pensions. 
“Despite enacting some important policies in recent years to improve financial opportunities, outcomes and equity between men and women - like auto-enrolment and gender pay gap reporting - our report is a timely reminder of the work that still needs to be done. We believe it can and it must," said trustee chair Joanne Segars. 

Last year, for the first time, the government produced gender pensions gap data which found a 35% gap, but it has not set out any policy proposals in response.
“The scale of the gender pensions gap remains vast and will require bolder policy actions,” said Lizzy Holliday, director of policy and public affairs at Now. “Some of the solutions are broader than traditional pension policy. Childcare and gender pay gap issues must be given the urgent attention they require.” 

Pensions experts and economists generally agree that the gender pensions gap is the result of labour market inequities. The Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Nuffield Foundation last year therefore called on the government to treat the gender pensions gap as a labour market issue.
Lauren Wilkinson, senior policy researcher at the PPI, also said policy solutions need to start with the labour market and the division of labour. 

“While there are some pensions policy options that could be introduced to potentially mitigate the gender pension gap, it’s unlikely to significantly reduce without changes in labour market conditions and gendered divisions of domestic labour,” she said.  

The findings by Now Pensions and the PPI come as the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association has updated its Retirement Living Standards. Since these were last published, there have been increases in the amounts required for all three levels, minimum, moderate and comfortable lifestyle. The minimum retirement income for a single person living outside London is now £14,400, with couples needing at least £22,400 a year.   
The moderate lifestyle saw the highest percentage increase, in part because focus groups said it should include money to support family members, for example to pay for grandchildren’s activities.  
The cost of childcare was also identified as a problem in the Now Pensions research. It cites average full-time nursery costs for a child under two in 2023 as being £14,800 a year outside London, and £20,000 or more per child in London. 

Are efforts to achieve greater gender equality slowing? 

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