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State pension changes and gender inequality – 10 years on

It's been 10 years since changes to the age and amount of the State Pension you can receive. Hannah Duncan looks at the impact, and whether women are now worse off than men.

Important notes

This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

It’s no secret most of us will be working later into our golden years. Unfortunately this is even truer for women. We look at the facts and offer some practical help on bridging the gap.

Before 2010, women over the age of 60 and men over 65 could apply for the State Pension. From December 2018, the State Pension age for both men and women has been the same and started the process of being increased from 65 to 66.

Anyone born before 6 July 1954 has already reached their State Pension age. If you were born between then and 5 October 1954 you will be able to claim your State Pension at some point between now and 6 September 2020. If you were born later, you’ll need to be at least 66 (further increases are planned from 2026).

For many people, the State Pension changes have altered their retirement plans. Below, we explore the impact of these changes.

Women now work for longer

There is a trend of women working for longer. In 1999, the average age for women leaving work was 60.8 – this increased to 64.3 in 2019.

So why did the State Pension age rise for women?

The government sets the state pension age with the aim to help people through the final stages of their life. As life expectancy increases, so does the State Pension age.

Living longer is great news for us, but it’s not so wonderful for the State Pension, which needs to stretch further for longer.

You can check your State Pension age using the government’s State Pension age calculator.

State Pension payments rise but men still get more

The average weekly State Pension payment has risen for both men and women over the last decade. State Pension increases are important as inflation makes the same products and services cost more money over time.

Men generally get an extra £41.35 each week whilst women get an extra £45.41, compared to 2010.

Although women have enjoyed a greater increase in their average pension payment, men still have a larger state pension overall. Typically, the average male pensioner receives around £163.19 each week, compared to a female pensioner who collects £136.33. This means men get an average of £1,396.32 more every year.

But if working life becomes more equal for both men and women, for example with an increase in stay-at-home dads and working mums, we might see this balance shift in future years.

And even today both women and men can now get the full State Pension of £175.20 per week. To qualify you need to have at least 35 years of national insurance (NI) contributions or credits throughout your working life. To get anything at all, a minimum of 10 years is required. This is usually paid automatically out of salaries by employers.

You can also go back and top up missing years online up to the last six years. You can see how much you’re likely to receive by requesting a State Pension Statement from the government online.

Please note, that if the State Pension is your main source of retirement income, it might not be enough for you to maintain your current standard of living. Find out how much you could need by using our planning tools:

Budget Planning

Pension Calculator

What do the next ten years look like?

Compared to 10 years ago, the amount of people claiming their State Pension has increased, bringing the total number up to 12.6 million today. This, along with the increase in weekly payments, pushed the UK’s state pension bill up to £96.8bn in 2018/2019, from £69.8bn in 2010. And it’s expected to increase to around £124.8bn by 2023/24.

If life expectancy increases, we might continue to see the age of retirement creeping higher too. By 2044-2046 the State Pension age is expected to increase to 68 years. Perhaps by this time, if working life continues to become more gender-equal, we might see the average women’s State Pension amount levelling out with men.

However, it’s estimated that the UK’s State Pension fund could run dry by 2033.

So the big question is – will the State Pension still be in place for years to come?

Time for women to save and invest with confidence

We want to help everyone reach their financial goals. We’d love to help you manage your finances, and give you assurance you can reach your goals.

Our advisers can help you get your pension fit for retirement. The first port of call is our advisory helpdesk. They’ll explain what you could gain from financial advice and put you in touch with an adviser, if appropriate. You might find personal advice is not right for you. If that’s the case we’ll support you with tools and information to help you get on track. If you decide to proceed with advice, there’ll be an advice charge that you will discuss with your adviser.


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This article isn’t personal advice, it is based on our understanding of current pension rules which could change in future. Once your money is held in a pension you can’t usually access it until age 55 (57 from 2028). Investments rise and fall in value, so you could get back less than you put in.

Hannah Duncan is an investment writer, and founder of Hannah Duncan Investment Content, with years of experience producing content for global leaders in finance and retail. Hargreaves Lansdown may not share the views of the author.



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    Important notes

    This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

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