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The pension gender gap is narrowing

Isobel Lawrance 21st May 2022 No Comments

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The latest statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) shows the pension gender gap is continuing to narrow. Currently, the full basic state pension is £141.85 per week. The full new state pension stands at £185.15 per week.


The statistics

So what can be seen of the pension gender gap in the latest stats?

The number of women receiving less than £100 of state pension per week has shrunk from 1.67 million in November 2020 to 1.5 million women in November 2021. In comparison, this figure was only 448,082 for men in November 2021.

There are still moves to be made to close the gap further, however. In November 2021, the mean weekly state benefit amount women in the UK received stood at £148.82 per week. This is still far less than the mean of £172.12 per week for men – a mean difference of £93.20 per month. This was, however, a slight improvement on November of 2020, when the mean women received per week was shown to be £143.43.

Women on both the basic state pension and the new state pension are still falling behind men on weekly pension allowances, a gap we hope to see close in the near future. The median income for women on the basic state pension is currently £146.39, compared to £172.68 per week for men. Women on the new state pension get a median income of £164.90 per week, compared to an average of £170.51 for men. This means women are receiving £26.29 and £5.61 less per week respectively.

You can see the full release from the DWP of the latest state pension figures, including information on the pension gender gap, up to November 2021 here.


Ways to boost your state pension

 There are a few ways you can boost your state pension, which you may not be fully aware of.

  1. Check your entitlement. Go online and check the amount of state pension you are entitled to. Check the age at which you can begin to receive the state pension. Take a look here.
  2. Claim child benefit. Women tend to miss out on valuable state pension credits more than men when they have children. If you claim child benefit, however, you will receive national insurance credits which count towards your state pension. This will not be the case if your husband or partner claims the child benefit. Make sure you do it in your name! You may also miss out on this opportunity if you opt out of child benefits due to the high-income child benefit tax charge.
  3. Specified Adult Childcare Credit. If you are under the state pension age and look after a family member under the age of 12 years whilst their parent or guardian goes to work, you could qualify for national insurance credits towards your state pension.
  4. Buy National Insurance credits. If you have a little cash to spare, you can fill any gaps in your NI record. You can buy voluntary class 3 NI contributions. Buying one full year costs around £825, and you can buy six years’ worth. In certain scenarios, you could buy more. Think of it as an investment into your future.
  5. Claim Pension Credit. If you are over the state pension and on a very low income, you may be eligible for Pension Credit. This tops up your weekly income to £182.60 if you are ingle and £278.70 if you have a partner. You will be entitled to other benefits as the result of this. This includes help with council tax and free TV licences.


What the experts are saying

Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown:

“The state pension gap is still narrowing, with the amount women receive continuing to rise. The introduction of the new state pension in 2016 has significantly boosted the amount women receive and we are seeing a big drop in the number of women receiving less than £100 per week in state pension. As more women retire into the new state pension system we should see incomes continue to grow and the introduction of auto-enrolment will see many more women further build their retirement resilience with a workplace pension. 

It is hugely important women focus on building their own retirement wealth. The new state pension does not allow you to inherit state pension entitlement from a spouse in the same way the old system did, and so women’s state pension is based on your individual national insurance record. Similarly, it can be tempting to rely on a spouse’s workplace pension provision if it is particularly generous, but in the case of separation or divorce many women may find themselves approaching retirement with little in the way of pension income. 

The state pension forms the backbone of peoples’ retirement planning. Under the current system you need ten years’ worth of national insurance (NI) credits to qualify for a state pension and 35 years’ worth to qualify for the full amount. Women can often struggle to reach the full amount because they spend time out of the workforce looking after families. However, claiming state benefits during these times can mean you can still claim NI credits and build your entitlement.”

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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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