Nearly half of women over 55 concerned about affording retirement

The number of over-55s worried about running out of money in retirement has increased to over a third (34 per cent) over the past year, increasing even further to 48 per cent amongst women, research from the Equity Release Council and Key has found.

The report, Pension/Property Paradox: revisiting the retirement confidence gap, found that whilst concerns are rising fastest amongst men, with an increase of nine percentage points over the past year to 32 per cent, women remain the most anxious demographic

In particular, it found that women feel they have less power over choosing when they can retire, with less than half (41 per cent) of women still working confident that they will be able to afford to choose when they retire, compared to 56 per cent of men.

Women were also more likely to expect a worse quality retirement, with just over a quarter (29 per cent) of women expecting to have a less comfortable retirement than their parents, compared to 21 per cent of men.

The report attributed the low retirement confidence levels, in part, to the “wide gender pension savings gap”, citing recent data from the Office for National Statistics which shows the value of women’s pension savings can be up to 40 per cent less than men's.

However, it emphasised that the pandemic will have also impacted saving attitudes and likely "dented" many people's hopes of achieving a comfortable retirement as many savers experience financial strains.

Indeed, the report highlighted recent data on the UK labour market, which showed that a record 90,000 people aged over 50 were made redundant between June and September 2020, warning that steep income falls will hit older workers’ retirement savings as they focus on meeting daily living costs.

It emphasised that this is already starting to happen, with more than one in 10 women (12 per cent) over the age of 55 having stopped saving altogether as a result of the pandemic, and 8 per cent of men.

Key CEO, Will Hale, warned that concerns around affordability in retirement have been exasperated by the impact of the pandemic, as older consumers who lose their jobs are forced to stop saving and dip into reserves.

He added: "Women who are disproportionately represented in hard-hit industries like hospitality and retail are already finding that their lower average salaries mean they are more financially vulnerable in retirement but both genders have been hit and are concerned about the future.

“Now more than ever it is important to take a holistic look at retirement finances and ensure that you are using all your assets to their full potential.

"For most over-55s, their home is worth more than their workplace pension so it is vital that this potential source of financial support in retirement is fully considered.”

This also follows recent research from Scottish Widows, which warned gender disparities had been amplified amid the pandemic, with the average women saving adequately on the median wage needing to work past age 100 to match men's pension savings.

Commenting on the report, Equity Release Council chairman, David Burrowes, added: "This research reveals that older women in work are experiencing an acute crisis in confidence about achieving a comfortable retirement.

“Women are faced with a disproportionately bigger challenge in building a nest egg for later life.

"This is driven by the perfect storm of longer life expectancies and gender differences in earnings, savings and working patterns.

"Yet despite this, women are also less likely than men to consider later life lending products when facing a retirement funding shortfall."

He added: "A more holistic approach to financial planning is needed now more than ever, as an over-reliance on pensions alone will make it harder to maintain living standards in later life.

“Looking ahead, there are important steps we can take to help strengthen people’s confidence ahead of retirement.

"Encouraging them to consider a range of funding options could improve their prospects of achieving greater financial security."

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