Gender-blind economic policy forcing retired women in poverty
New data showing the widening gap between women’s and men’s average retirement income results from successive governments’ failure to invest in giving women equal opportunities to work and save, the Women’s Equality Party said on Thursday.
New data shows the gap between women’s and men’s average retirement income has grown by £1,000 in a year.
“Today we see the direct result of a political failure to act on the pension gap,” said Sophie Walker, Women’s Equality Party leader. “Women’s pension poverty is unequal and unfair. WE have long called for a universal flat rate of pension tax relief to encourage women to save, that would in turn fund free childcare. It’s time for an end to gender-blind policy-making.”
Walker explained that women’s pension poverty was a consequence of the structural inequalities arising from the gender pay gap, occupational segregation and women’s unpaid, unvalued care work.
“Young women come out of our education system into jobs that often pay less. They are then far more likely to take on caring responsibilities that take them out of the workforce entirely or see them move into lower paid and part-time roles,” she said. “In addition, women often pay for childcare from their take-home pay, and therefore save less. Often those in work are less likely to benefit from auto-enrolment. The current pension system fails to see this, leaving women less able to contribute to and claim a decent pension. It is simply not fair that people who earn more get a higher pension top-up from the tax man.”
The Women’s Equality Party is the only party with a joined-up plan for tackling the pension gap. “We are working to create an equal education system that ends the practice of encouraging young girls into jobs that we value and pay less. We have fully-costed policies for free childcare that would create millions more jobs, increase the tax base and reduce out-of-work benefits. We are the only party working to offer women real choices so they can work and save,” said Walker.
“Our plan to move to a flat rate of pension tax relief at 25 pence in the pound (up from the current 20p per pound for basic rate taxpayers) would boost the pension tax relief of up to 95% of working women by a quarter, stopping thousands of women retiring into pension poverty.”
She added: “It’s time for policy making that really sees women.”
The Women’s Equality Party is committed to ending the cycle of too many women living their retirement in poverty. Policies that directly address this include:
Introducing a 25% single rate of tax relief to boost the pension savings of all low earners
Funding fully equal parental leave so that both parents get six weeks away from work on 90% of pay, followed by 10 months to be shared between parents – helping keep women in working roles in the long term
Universal, high quality free childcare for all children from the end of shared parental leave
Ensuring state-funded Statutory Maternity Pay is available to all working mothers, regardless of length of service, to protect low-paid women and those on zero hours contracts – helping keep women in work and making pension contributions in the long term
The Women’s Equality Party was established two years ago to highlight and dismantle obstacles to gender equality in the UK: a political and economic architecture rigged against women and diversity, an education system riven with unconscious bias and gender stereotyping, a media that reinforces these stereotypes, a society that assigns little value to caregiving and therefore assumes it to be women’s business, that underpays women and invests less in women’s health and permits endemic harassment and violence against women.
The Party currently has 65,000 members and registered supporters. It aims to put equality for women at the top of the national political agenda by being an electoral force that also works with other political parties; in addition to party membership it also offers joint memberships to members of other political parties.
Press enquiries to Catherine Riley, Head of Communications (firstname.lastname@example.org/+447764 752 731).
Press at Women’s Equality Party