Thousands of women ‘shut out’ of workplace pensions

Woman at counter to illustrate women shut out of pension schemes

Financial planning in association with Scottish Widows bannerCitizens Advice analysis finds many women with multiple jobs are not being auto-enrolled

Analysis of Office for National Statistics figures by charity Citizens Advice has revealed that over 100,000 workers in the UK are not being placed automatically into a workplace pension scheme because they are juggling multiple jobs.

Of the 106,000 employees not being auto-enrolled because their earnings come from more than one employer, 72,000 are women. To qualify for an auto-enrolment pension, workers in the UK must earn a minimum of £10,000 a year from an employer.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Too many people are shut out of a workplace pension – despite earning enough to qualify.

“Many people – particularly women – work several part-time jobs, which helps them manage commitments like childcare or study.

“But while in many cases they earn over £10,000, and pay tax on this combined income, they don’t have access to a workplace pension and miss out on the opportunity to save for their retirement.

“The government needs to seize the opportunity of this year’s auto-enrolment review and use it to pave the way for helping more people get on track with pension savings.”

She added that greater clarity needs to be provided to business owners by government: “Employers clearly recognise the value of contributing to workers’ pensions but are fuzzy on the detail of how this will change over coming years.

“As the review of auto-enrolment progresses and contribution rates increase, changes must be clearly communicated to employers in advance so they can plan for the future of their business.”

The government has said that it plans to review the situation later this year.

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesman said: “Automatic enrolment has been a huge success with more than seven million people now saving for a workplace pension.

“There’s more to do especially for people with more than one job and we’re currently reviewing the policy to see how it can be improved.”

Catherine Stewart, head of market development at Scottish Widows, explains that reducing the earnings threshold would help reduce the pension savings gap between men and women:

“We have been researching and reporting on women and retirement for over a decade, and while more people are saving adequately for retirement, women lag behind men and the gap has widened.

“Our 2016 report revealed that women are twice as likely as men to be working two jobs, each paying under £10,000. We recommend that the earnings trigger for auto-enrolment be reduced considerably to make it truly inclusive.”

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