Gender pension gap revealed to be as high as 57% in parts of the UK

Laura Dunn-Sims

by , PR Manager

27 May 2021 /  

27
May 2021

Gold unbalanced scales

New data from leading online pension provider, PensionBee, reveals that the UK gender pension gap is as high as 57%, depending on savers’ age and regional location.

From analysing the data of over 65,000 British consumers, PensionBee has found that a gender pension gap exists in every UK region. On average, UK men have saved £24,236 towards their retirement compared to just £15,006 saved by UK women, accounting for a 38% gap in the size of their respective pension pots.

Gender pension gap by region

Savers in Northern Ireland have the largest gap at 57%, with average retirement savings for men totalling £17,883 versus £7,737 for women in the region. Analysis shows that the North East (£20,514 compared to £11,177) and South West (£24,641 compared to £13,326) have identical gaps of 46%, slightly higher than the national average (38%).

On the opposite end of the scale, savers living in Greater London have the lowest gender pension gap of 28% (£24,853 compared to £17,863).

Gender pension gap by age

PensionBee’s analysis has highlighted that the gender pay gap only widens with age. There is a 46% gap amongst savers aged fifty and over (£52,592 compared to £28,249), more than double the 18% gap of savers under thirty (£3,925 compared to £3,215) and the 21% gap of those in their thirties (£12,075 compared to £9,537).

These findings indicate that as a woman moves closer to retirement she has significantly less savings than a man of a similar age, and may face a less certain financial future. A woman in her fifties will have less time to reduce the gap than a woman in a younger age bracket. As a result, she may have to work longer than anticipated, or may become reliant on the State Pension, which pays just £9,339.20 a year (from the age of 66 in 2021/22), to make up for the shortfall.

Expected pension pot in retirement

PensionBee also calculated the expected retirement pot of each age group, based on certain assumptions. The findings showed that those who are the closest to retirement, and have the most pressing financial needs, are expected to retire on significantly smaller pensions than their younger counterparts.

On average, savers aged fifty and over look set to retire on the smallest personal pensions of £87,500. This is over a third less than those aged under thirty, who are expected to amass pots worth £140,700, on average, by the time they reach the age of 65.

The findings relate to defined contribution pensions and many older savers fortunately continue to have access to defined benefit company pensions.

Romi Savova, CEO of PensionBee, commented: “It’s incredibly disappointing to see that, on average, women across the UK have 38% less in their pension pots than their male counterparts. Everyone deserves to look forward to a happy retirement, regardless of their gender, and more must be done to prevent the gap from developing at the start of a woman’s working life, as we know that it only widens with age. Where a pay gap exists for women, a pension gap will follow, therefore tackling wage inequality is of paramount importance.

At the same time, female savers must be encouraged to keep paying into their pension, even when taking breaks from paid employment or working reduced hours. Women are more likely than men to take time off work to look after children, and many women stop contributing to their pension while on maternity leave. The combination of lower salaries and long career gaps, with little or no pension saving for years, are a massive disadvantage for women.

The benefits of compound interest and tax tops from HMRC make a pension an attractive long-term investment, and the more women can contribute their pensions now, the more they will be able to improve their quality of life in retirement.”

Appendix

Table 1: Gender pension gap by region

Region Average male pension Average female pension Gender pension gap
Northern Ireland £17,883 £7,737 57%
North East £20,514 £11,177 46%
South West £24,641 £13,326 46%
Scotland £22,266 £12,247 45%
Wales £20,053 £11,426 43%
East Midlands £22,218 £12,898 42%
North West £18,843 £10,988 42%
West Midlands £22,141 £13,124 41%
South East £32,025 £19,046 41%
Greater London £24,853 £17,863 28%
Average £24,236 £15,006 38%

Source: PensionBee, March 2021. Based on a sample of 65,656 savers.

Table 2: Gender pension gap by age

Age Average male pension Average female pension Gender pension gap
Under 30 £3,925 £3,215 18%
30-39 £12,075 £9,537 21%
40-49 £33,598 £22,589 29%
50+ £52,592 £28,249 46%
Average £24,236 £15,006 38%

Source: PensionBee, March 2021. Based on a sample of 65,656 savers.

Table 3: Expected pension pot in retirement

Age Average pension pot by age 65
Under 30 £140,700
30-39 £135,900
40-49 £112,900
50+ £87,500

Source: PensionBee, March 2021. Based on a sample of 65,656 savers. We have assumed the pension grows at an annual rate of 5% and that, based on our most popular plan, Tailored, annual charges are 0.7%. Average monthly contributions are based on the minimum required contribution of 8% of qualifying earnings for Auto-Enrolment. Average salaries are taken from HMRC’s national statistics on the distribution of income, and it is assumed that individuals will receive a 2% salary increase per year. Inflation reduces the rate of return. All calculations are based on the average age for the entire group, and it is assumed that the retirement age is 65.

Sample

We compared 65,656 individuals with PensionBee pensions, who are broadly distributed like the general UK population between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, albeit with a slightly higher concentration in London and the South East. The sample was analysed in March 2021 and represents an age group of 19-79 years. It includes 21,877 women, representing 33% of the sample and 43,775 men, representing the remaining 67% of the sample.

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