Gender-blind economic policy forcing retired women in poverty
Published 29 June 2017
New data showing the widening gap between women’s and men’s average retirement income results from successive governments’ failure to invest in giving women equal opportunities to work and save, the Women’s Equality Party said on Thursday.
The data shows the gap between women’s and men’s average retirement income has grown by £1,000 in a year.
“Today we see the direct result of a political failure to act on the pension gap,” said Sophie Walker, Women’s Equality Party leader. “Women's pension poverty is unequal and unfair. WE have long called for a universal flat rate of pension tax relief to encourage women to save, that would in turn fund free childcare. It’s time for an end to gender-blind policy-making.”
Walker explained that women’s pension poverty was a consequence of the structural inequalities arising from the gender pay gap, occupational segregation and women’s unpaid, unvalued care work.
“Young women come out of our education system into jobs that often pay less. They are then far more likely to take on caring responsibilities that take them out of the workforce entirely or see them move into lower paid and part-time roles,” she said. “In addition, women often pay for childcare from their take-home pay, and therefore save less. Often those in work are less likely to benefit from auto-enrolment. The current pension system fails to see this, leaving women less able to contribute to and claim a decent pension. It is simply not fair that people who earn more get a higher pension top-up from the tax man.”
The Women’s Equality Party is the only party with a joined-up plan for tackling the pension gap. “We are working to create an equal education system that ends the practice of encouraging young girls into jobs that we value and pay less. We have fully-costed policies for free childcare that would create millions more jobs, increase the tax base and reduce out-of-work benefits. We are the only party working to offer women real choices so they can work and save,” said Walker.
“Our plan to move to a flat rate of pension tax relief at 25 pence in the pound (up from the current 20p per pound for basic rate taxpayers) would boost the pension tax relief of up to 95% of working women by a quarter, stopping thousands of women retiring into pension poverty.”
She added: “It’s time for policy making that really sees women.”