Women lose out in state pension changesTimetable for age increase hits over 300,000

23 June 2011

Women will have longer to wait until they retire

Women in their mid-50s will have to work longer than previously expected, as the government brings forward the increase in their state pension age to 65 from 2020 to 2018.

New pensions timetable causes controversy

As a result of plans to phase in a state pension age of 65 for women in 2018, rather than 2020, those born between 6 December 1953 and 5 October 1954 will see it rise by more than 18 months.The measure will affect about 330,000 women. 

Around 33,000 women, born between 6 March and 5 April 1954, will see an increase of two years. If you're unsure of how you might be affected by the proposals and are a Which? member, sign up for our live pensions Q&A event on 1 July - where you'll be able to chat online with our pensions experts about your retirement plans.

Criticism of increases to women's state pension age

Although an increase in their state pension age was widely seen as inevitable due to women's rising life expectancies, bringing the deadline forward has taken some women by surprise. The government's initiative has been criticised by Dr Ros Altmann of Saga, who said: 'These women are being asked to shoulder an unfair burden and have insufficient time to make alternative plans to replace the state pension they will lose'. 

Age UK has also attacked the proposal as 'unfair'. So far, the government is sticking to its new schedule, although there have been suggestions that 'transitional arrangements' could brought in made to lessen the impact of the changes on some women.

Women's pensions are lower

Earlier this year a large-scale study by Prudential found that women tended to receive lower pensions than men, with a men expecting to get £19,600 on average while women anticipated a retirement income of £12,200. 

Reasons for the pensions gender gap include lower wages and less consistent working lives. Some women's National Insurance Contributions are insufficient to generate the full state pension, while those who pay into private schemes for less time also build a smaller pension pot. 

A final factor is annuity rates - which are lower for women than men, because they tend to live longer.

Planning ahead for retirement       

Which? pensions expert, Ian Robinson, said: 'Although there is little women can do to influence general gender inequality, the gap does show the importance of pension planning

'It helps to get a state pension forecast and see what you might expect to receive. If there are contribution gaps, you might be able to buy 'extra years' so that you get full state pension. 

'Similarly, women sometimes can make additional contributions to their workplace scheme, through AVCs, significantly boosting their resulting retirement income.'

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Which? Money - Live pensions Q&A

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