Govt to tackle gender inequality from ‘school to retirement’

The government has published a roadmap aimed at reducing financial instability for women in later life, including pensions wealth.

Gender equality at every stage: a roadmap for change, published today (3 July), named pensions inequality as one of eight key issues for women and has laid out a series of remedies to tackle the issue, including working closely with the Money and Pensions Service (Maps) to improve women’s engagement.

The plan, launched by Minister for Women and Equalities, Penny Mordaunt, will aim to “financially empower women from school to retirement” which includes equal pay legislation and giving the Women’s Business Council the remit of working to tackle the gender pay gaps.

Mordaunt said: “I want everyone in our country to be able to thrive in life. That means being able to be in control of the choices you make and have the opportunities you have to seize.

“This inequality is faced at every stage of a woman’s life - from how she is treated in the classroom, to the caring roles she often takes on, and the lack of savings or pension she accumulates. This road map is intended to define and guide how we tackle the barriers women face as they journey through life.

“I’m confident today’s announcement will be the first step in a long-term commitment by this government to empower everyone in this country, helping them truly reach their full potential, from birth to retirement.”

The government said it will be working with Maps to improve “signposting, clarity and consistency of information” and to deliver a comprehensive engagement exercise to better women’s financial outcomes, as well as equalising men and women’s participation rates in workplace pension schemes.

In addition, the government plan to update the online divorce process to “include a behavioural nudge and improved guidance” to ensure couples are aware of the benefit of pensions sharing.

“We are committed to working with providers, the wider industry, The Pensions Regulator, and the Money and Pensions Service to understand how and where they can use better communications and specific messaging to support women to plan and save for greater security in retirement,” the report said.

According to the report, women aged 55 to 64 are almost 20 per cent less likely to have a private pension, and those that do have 40 per cent less wealth held in them.

Furthermore, 70 per cent of the 1.7 million who are financially struggling in retirement are women.

Commenting, Association of British Insurers director of long-term savings policy, Yvonne Braun, said: “The cumulative effect of lots of disadvantages encountered by women through their working lives adds up to a major gap in their finances by the time they retire.

“From the gender pay gap through to rights for carers, it’s encouraging to see this broad package of proposals aimed at making a genuine difference.

“I am particularly pleased to see effort being made to help women understand their options over pension arrangements when going through divorce, which could do a lot to help guard against financial insecurity in later life.”

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