On November 6th 2018, the state pension age for both men and women was set at an equal 65 years.1 Now that we’re exactly three months on from this landmark change, we take a look at what this has meant for pension equality.
Gender gap in pensions
Women are now retiring later and whilst this does give a few extra years to pay into a pension pot, it still looks like there will be a huge gap in savings and retirement income.
This is mainly due to working patterns and, in some circumstances, the gender pay gap. If men and women followed the same pattern of work from the age of 20 to retirement, then it’s thought that pensions would look more equal. However, many women will have more of a fragmented career compared to their male counterparts. This is down to a number of things, including taking time off to have children and then subsequently providing childcare, having a flexible working pattern, being self-employed or taking a career break to care for relatives if needed.
According to research carried out by Which?, on the latest Department for Work & Pensions data an average man was receiving £153.86 a week pension, compared to £125.98 a week by the average woman.2 And whilst the research did show that the situation had improved slightly from figures recorded in previous years, there is still a large imbalance that has followed into 2018 and beyond.
Tips to take control of your pension
With the state pension age set to continue to rise for both men and women, the reality is we will be working for longer before we’re able to access this. And for many this is unlikely to provide them with enough money to continue to live comfortably in later life, which is why it’s really important to start thinking and preparing for retirement as early as possible…
What to do if you’re employed through a company
If you’re employed, aged between 22 and state pension age and earn over £10,000 a year, make sure you check that your employer has enrolled you into their company pension scheme. In April this year it’ll be compulsory for you to put at least 5% of your salary into your pension and all employers will also need to top this up with at a contribution of at least 3%. This will happen automatically and the money will be deducted from your gross pay.
Remember to also consider whether you could afford to put in a higher contribution, as the more you can put aside now, the more comfortable you could be later in life. Employers will each have different pension schemes and will be able to give you more information about your options.
What to do if you’re self-employed
Even though it’s a bit trickier to start saving for later life when you’re self-employed, because there is no employer to make contributions for you, there are schemes out there to suit. A personal pension may be a good option, as you can choose where you want your funds to be invested from a list of options offered by the provider. The provider will also claim tax relief on your behalf, which will then be added into your pension pot.
Many schemes also have the option to postpone payments or reduce payments for a certain time, so if you’re having a quieter time with work and not bringing as much money in, this could take the pressure off. How much you’ll get at the end will depend on how much you pay in, how well the savings perform and what charges you have to pay.
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1 Statistic taken from https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1041732/pensions-women-loose-out-age-equality
2 Statistic taken from https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/04/revealed-the-state-pension-gender-pay-gap/