The Launch of the Scottish Widows Women and Retirement Report 2019 – BLOG – Karen Last

January 1, 2020 3:11 pm

Karen Last attended an event hosted by journalist and TV presenter Kirsty Wark recently where the 2019 Scottish Widows Women and Retirement Report was launched.  Karen found some of the findings made very interesting reading so we have a brief resume below.

Scottish Widows first began surveying women’s retirement preparations 15 years ago.  There has been a great deal of progress in that time with women of all age groups saving more than ever before.  However women continue to be less likely to save than men and when they do, they save less of their income.   Certain events compound the savings gap such as divorce, maternity leave and part-time working.  The number of self-employed women has been increasing steadily but most are saving too little or nothing at all.

Summary of the Scottish Widows policy recommendations

Helping the self-employed

  • Support the majority of self-employed women who are saving little or nothing and achieve parity with employees who benefit from automatic enrolment.
  • The government should develop a mechanism that will provide default access to pension savings for the self-employed.

Tackling financial pressures

  • Helping women who are more likely to face financial hardships access vital savings and continue to participate in saving for their pension.
  • Give them the flexibility to use pension savings in times of hardship.

Supporting home ownership

  • Close the gap on housing affordability between men and women by making it easier to access funds.
  • Give flexibility to use pension savings to help fund a first home deposit.

Getting a fair share in divorce

  • Ensure women no longer miss out on pension assets.
  • Inclusion of pensions in divorce proceedings should be compulsory.
  • Instigate a government-led education campaign to help people understand the legalities.

Supporting life events

  • Helping close the gender gap that results from maternity, career breaks and part-time working.
  • Enhanced maternity pensions.
  • Clear communication regarding child benefit.
  • Equalised shared parental leave rights.
  • Scrap the automatic enrolment earnings threshold.
  • Lower the minimum age for automatic enrolment from 22 to 18.

Whilst the progress made over the past 15 years is heartening, it is felt that this ambitious set of reforms is needed to tackle the challenges that women continue to face in planning their retirement.