Network set up to ensure women get equal slice of the pensions pie

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has launched a women’s pensions network to try and address the massive difference in how much men and women workers save for retirement.

The scheme, which will be led by the EOC and MPs, is supported by Baroness Hollis of Heigham from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the author of a damning report last week into the state of women’s pension provision in the UK.

The report found that men receive 50 to 100 a week more private pension income than women of the same age. Only 38% of today’s working-age women are contributing to a private pension compared to 46% of men, the research found. And less than a third (30%) of women will have paid enough National Insurance to get a full state pension when they retire.

Separate figures from the EOC show that when women retire, their pension pots are, on average, about half (57%) of what men set aside.

Hollis said that too many women were confused by pensions and believed, often wrongly, that their partner would provide for them.

“They believe too that their children’s need for trainers today takes precedence over some undefined needs 30 years on,” she said.

Jenny Watson, acting chair of the EOC, called for radical reforms to put an end to “the scandal” of women’s pensions.

The EOC network will push for a common entitlement to the basic state pension for women, which would recognise the ‘value’ of each person’s contribution, whether through paid work or caring for others.

It also calls for state and private pension arrangements to recognise and reflect unpaid caring work, saying that everyone who works or cares should be able to accrue pension income above the poverty threshold. 

Famous last words?

Former work and pensions secretary David Blunkett quoted in a press release about the report on women’s pension shortfalls, released just before his resignation: “What is clear is that what happens in your working life affects how you will end up in retirement.”

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