A report commissioned by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has found that women have barely half the occupational pension savings of men.
The study, which was carried out by the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI), found that, on average, women have £7,500 in defined contribution pension schemes, while men have around £14,500.
In defined benefit (or ‘final salary’) schemes, women typically have £32,000 in savings, compared with £62,900 for men. Women also receive smaller state pensions – typically £2,548 a year, which is 25% less than men.
The report also found that the self-employed, carers, and ethnic minority workers all have below-average pension savings.
According to its research, self-employed workers typically have 4.8% less in defined contribution savings and 12.7% less in defined benefit savings than average pensioners.
TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: ‘Today’s report is a sobering reminder of Britain’s stark pension divide.
‘Everyone should have the chance of a decent retirement income, not just men in full-time employment. Women, carers and ethnic minority workers will continue to have a tough time in old age if swift action is not taken.
‘We urgently need a debate on how unions, Government and employers can work together to build on the success of auto-enrolment. And we mustn’t shy away from looking at the underlying problems in our labour market that are driving these inequalities in pension saving.’
Head of Policy Research at the PPI, Daniela Silcock, said: ‘Though pensions policy has played a role in supporting adequacy, the underlying causes of retirement income disparities cannot be tackled solely through pensions policy.
‘They involve labour-market, social and regulatory issues related to inequalities experienced during working-life. Therefore, addressing ongoing differences in private pension income would involve a joint effort from Government departments, employers, social services, regulatory bodies and community support groups.’