What is the gender pension gap and how can women make more of their pension?

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Kerensa Johnson

February 13, 2023

4 mins read

The rising cost of living seems to be having a bigger impact on women’s finances. But there are lots of things you can do right now to help you or a friend, colleague, or loved one take ownership of their pension. Read our tips for some inspiration.

Our Retirement Voice 2022 report – which surveyed almost 6,000 British people on how they think and feel about retirement – revealed that the rising cost of living is disproportionality affecting women. And as a result, the gender pension gap is getting wider. 

The good news is that spending more time understanding your pension savings can help you feel more in control of your financial future. We have a range of resources that can help you or someone you know, as well as some suggestions on quick things they can do right now.

What is the gender pension gap?

But first, what is the gender pension gap? It’s the difference in retirement income between men and women, with women tending to have less pension savings to retire with than men.

The causes behind the gender pension gap are complex, but it’s partly caused by a combination of the gender pay gap and how life events can impact women – such as motherhood, divorce, and caring responsibilities – which make it more difficult to save for the future.

Pension tips that could help women make more of their money

Whilst the gender pension gap isn’t a simple issue to fix, there are lots of things women can do right now that could help them feel more in control of their pension savings. 

Check if your pension savings are on track

Arming yourself with knowledge is a good way to help you make more confident decisions. So if you’re unsure if you’re saving enough, finding out how much you have in your pension pot (or pots) now could help you understand if you’re on track for the retirement you want. 

Our pension calculator is a good place to start, and could give you a clearer picture of what adjustments you may need to make to meet your retirement goals, such as increasing your monthly pension contributions or topping up your pension pot with a one-off payment.

Stop and think before you consider cutting back on pension payments

20% more women than men say they would cut back on their pension contributions as a way to deal with rising costs, according to our research.

If you’re considering stopping your pension payments, it’s important to consider the impact that this may have on your future plans. Stopping payments means you may miss out on pension contributions from your employer, as well as tax relief on pension payments from the government. This would leave you with a smaller pension pot to retire with, meaning you may need to work for longer.

If you need to cut back, think about reducing your payments, rather than stopping them altogether. That way, you can still benefit from tax relief or employer contributions.

You can find more information about why keeping up with your pension payments is a good idea in our article: ‘Five reasons why you shouldn't stop paying into your pension plan’.

See if you can get more from your workplace pension plan

If you’re enrolled in a workplace pension, then your employer has to pay in a minimum of 3% of your qualifying earnings into your pension pot.

But some employers may pay in more than the required minimum as part of their benefits package. In some cases, they may match your contributions up to a certain percentage – which could significantly boost the amount going into your pension pot. So it’s worth checking if your employer offers this.

You can also read our ‘What is a workplace pension?’ guide to learn the basics on workplace pension plans.

How we can support you

We have lots of help and support on managing your money on our dedicated cost of living support page, including tips and guidance on how to make the most of your money.

If you have a Standard Life pension, you can visit our Contact & Support hub for more information on the different ways to get in touch with us. 

Discover more from our research

Our Retirement Voice 2022 report explores how people’s retirement attitudes and experiences are changing. Watch our summary video or download the full report for more insights. 

We’re also part of Phoenix Group, the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business, who work on important research to inspire action as part of their Phoenix Insights think tank. In the latest report, Phoenix Insights share their recommendations on what employers and the government can do to better support women and help close the gender pension gap. You can read their Caught in a Gap report to learn more.

The information here is based on our understanding in February 2023 and shouldn’t be taken as financial advice.

Standard Life accepts no responsibility for information in external websites. These are provided for general information.

A pension is an investment. Its value can go down and well as up and could be worth less than was paid in. 

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