2018 WBG Briefing: Women and Pensions

Date Posted: Friday 19th October 2018

October 2018


Ahead of the 2018 Autumn Budget, we’ve put together a briefing on recent changes to pensions and their impact on women.

View and download the full briefing here.

Key points
  • State pensions in the UK have been among the lowest in the OECD, nearly £40 per week less than the threshold of eligibility for the means-tested Pension Credit.
  • The new Single Tier Pension is only just above the single rate of Pension Credit if paid in full, but women are less likely than men to have the required 35 years of contributions or credits.
  • A tax-funded Citizens Pension, payable to each pensioner at a level similar to the Minimum Income Standard, would be a better way to ensure women have a basic independent income in retirement.
  • Private pension schemes, promoted and subsidised by UK governments, are the main reason for the gender gap in pensions, placing women at a disadvantage due to their domestic roles and lower pay.
  • Auto-enrolled private pensions, while including all employees, exclude the low-paid and, like other private pensions, make no allowance for periods of caring, hence perpetuating the gender gap in pensions.
  • We conclude that a Voluntary Earnings-related State Pension Addition (VESPA) – an auto-enrolled option that is fully portable and allows carer credits – would better meet women’s need for extra pension saving.


Written by Dr Jay Ginn (Associate, University of Surrey Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender [CRAG])