Here’s another shocker: not only are we struggling against the gender divide in our monthly pay packets but, as women, we’ll also have smaller pension pots than the opposite sex by retirement. In cold, hard figures, that equates to a shortfall of £47,000 compared to the guy at the desk next to you if you’re a woman of 21 starting work now.
This seems discriminatory but it’s easily explained. Because women (in general) earn less than men, they also receive less in pension contributions from their employer. These hand-outs are normally linked to salary. And, of course, if you’re taking a career break to raise children or care for elderly relatives, you won’t be working for an employer and enjoying pension contributions that way.
Even when we return to work, the situation doesn’t improve. Insurer Zurich found that there were significantly more men in their UK survey (63% by my calculations) getting pension contributions than women. One reason for this could be because women tend to work part-time or take low-paid roles and, if you earn less than £10,000 a year, you don’t have to be automatically enrolled into the company pension scheme.
So – problem, especially for myself as I have next to zero pension provision, I am ashamed to admit. I have a workplace scheme that I left 15 years ago which might pay £400 a month when I’m 65 – barely enough to meet the fizzy bill! Then there’s my state pension (zilch anyway) which has missing years because I lived abroad for a while. As a self-employed freelance writer for the past decade or so, I’ve had no company scheme either.
Ah, poor me. And however damning these figures are, I don’t see the government springing into action to give us gals a retirement booster any time soon. Sisters are going to have to do it for ourselves - as usual. In my case, I have paid for extra years on my state pension and I am shovelling any spare cash (up to £2,880 a year for non-workers and/or non-taxpayers) into a self-invested personal pension (SIPP) when I can. If you’ve a spare moment in the next few weeks, I recommend doing something similar. For help see the SMM guides to pensions here.