WASPI women have been left ‘high and dry’ says David Linden
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Men feel more confident than women that they will not have financial worries in retirement and will be able to support family members financially if needed, as well as being more assured that they will be able to retire when they see fit, according to new research from Canada Life. This appears to highlight a gender divide with regard to retirement freedom for men and women.
The research discovered that men are more confident than women when it comes to most aspects of retirement plans, with the data collected by surveying UK adults who had received advice from a professional adviser. Nearly two-thirds of men (64 percent) were confident they will retire at the age they plan, compared to 53 percent of women.
When asked about financial worries, 45 percent of women said they did not feel they would have any financial worries in retirement, in comparison to 58 percent of men. Men are also more likely to think they will completely stop working when they retire.
One in two men (52 percent) are likely to have to phase into retirement, reducing their working hours over a number of years, compared to 40 percent of women.
Fewer women (50 percent) than men (60 percent) feel likely that they will be able to support family members financially if needed, once they had themselves retired. Women also felt less confident in being able to leave a financial legacy, with 46 percent of women thinking they will be able to leave the desired amount to loved ones, compared to 54 percent of men.
Sean Christian, MD and Executive Director, Wealth Management Division Canada Life said: “A retirement gender divide is clearly revealed in this research, with men showing a greater confidence in almost every aspect of their retirement plans. This has no doubt been exacerbated by the gender pensions gap, currently estimated to be twice the size of the gender pay gap.
“This gap in earnings and savings often appears when women take time away from work to bring up a family or decide to return to work part-time.
“Women are also more likely to work part-time in the types of low paid work where they miss out on the benefits of being auto enrolled into a pension, simply because they don’t meet the criteria.
“This inequality can only be addressed through decisive policy action to address the pension gender divide. Relatively simple changes to the way auto enrolment works today would benefit both men and women but would go a long way towards levelling the playing field.
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“Changes such as removing the lower contributions limit would let more people benefit from every pound earned, while removing the £10,000 threshold would make auto enrolment more inclusive and begin to level up pensions for all.”
A spokesperson from the campaign group Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) commented on the findings. They said: “It will come as no surprise to WASPI women that more women than men are concerned about whether they will retire at their official state pension age.
“WASPI women, born in the 1950s saw two increases to the state pension age from 60 to 65 and it was then accelerated, with that of men to 66.
“WASPI is not opposed to the equalisation of the state pension age, however the lack of notice women received caused major problems for these women, many of whom started work at 15 in the expectation they would retire at 60.
“With less than two years’ notice of a six-year increase, retirement plans were shattered. Women who had already left the workplace to look after elderly parents or partners found they needed to return to work to make it to their new state pension age, or to use up the savings they had made in the interim period.
“Age discrimination is still rife, and women who worked in retail, hospitality, and short-term contracts found work disappeared during the pandemic. It takes a lifetime of work to plan for retirement. For WASPI women, already affected by the gender pay gap there was no time to make alternative arrangements.
“Recent studies showed that one in four women are entirely dependent on the state pension. The Parliamentary and Health Service recently vindicated WASPI women in their claim that we were not properly informed. We urgently await the conclusion to his investigation.”
Regarding WASPI’s claims on women not being properly informed, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman said that from 2005 onwards, there were failings in the action taken by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to communicate the state pension age changes
They have laid an investigation report before Parliament, describing how in their opinion, the DWP failed to make reasonable decisions based on the information available, and failed to communicate with the women affected with enough urgency.
Amanda Amroliwala, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman CEO, said: “After a detailed investigation, we have found that DWP failed to act quickly enough once it knew a significant proportion of women were not aware of changes to their state pension age. It should have written to the women affected at least 28 months earlier than it did.
“We will now consider the impact of these failings, and what action should be taken to address them.”
A DWP spokesperson previously said: “The Government decided over 25 years ago that it was going to make the state pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality. Raising state pension age in line with life expectancy changes has been the policy of successive administrations over many years.”
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