According to analysis of personal pensions data released in early October by HM Revenue & Customs, some 1.66million fewer women contribute to a personal pension – compared to 1.43million fewer in 2011/2012.
The analysis, by Salisbury House Wealth, highlighted that 3.6million women in the UK make contributions to a personal pension compared to 5.3million men, but emphasised that the number contributing is “only half the problem.”
“The amounts they are contributing is the other half,” said Tim Holmes, managing director of Salisbury House Wealth, who pointed to gender pay inequality having a direct impact on ability to save for retirement.
“Whilst workplace pensions are a step in the right direction,” he continued. “It is too easy for people to keep their contributions to an absolute minimum.
“Alternatively, they can opt out altogether should they feel they cannot afford to make contributions at all.
“This is something that needs be turned around or women, in particular, could face serious financial problems in retirement. This is a major reason why the gender pay gap urgently needs to be closed.”
The disparity comes despite news that personal pension contributions hit a record level in 2015/2016, with over £24bn saved and the total number of savers reaching 9million by the end of last year, according to HM Revenue & Customs.
Gender pensions gap – the expert view
Scottish Widows retirement expert, Catherine Stewart explains: “Our 13th annual Women and Retirement Report shows that, with all types of pension taken into account, just 52 per cent of women are saving adequately for retirement, compared to 59 per cent of men.
“It’s not just a result of the gender pay gap; maternity leave and career breaks can all hold back women’s earning potential and this often impacts pensions savings.
“Employers are well placed to help address the issue by providing the right information at key points in employees’ working lives, such as when they take parental leave or reduce their working hours to look after a child.
“We want to make better use of the workplace to address the gender savings gap, and help employers in these conversations, so we’ve produced a guide for employers and short videos for employees explaining what it means for their pensions when they take parental leave or work part-time.”