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Pensions: Gender

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN HL8213, tabled on 16 September 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce the gender pension gap.

Answered on

23 September 2020

Automatic enrolment has reversed the decline in workplace pension saving. Latest figures show that over 10 million workers have been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension by more than 1.7 million employers. By 2019/20 an estimated extra £18.6 billion a year is estimated to go into workplace pensions as a result of this policy.

Automatic enrolment was designed to help groups who historically were poorly served or excluded from workplace pension saving, such as women and lower earners. These reforms have helped millions more women save into a workplace pension, many for the first time. Workplace pension participation among eligible women working in the private sector has risen from 40 per cent in 2012 to 86 per cent in 2019 – which is equal to men.

Reforms to the State Pension have improved State Pension outcomes. Over three million women stand to receive an average of £550 more per year by 2030 as a result of the recent reforms. There are currently still inequalities, based on historic factors, but in time, these will reduce, helped by the reforms of the new State Pension.

In private pensions, the most important factors driving the gap are related to the labour market with inequalities in pay and working patterns. Women are more likely to take career breaks than men and to work part-time in lower-paid jobs because of caring responsibilities. We have put in place practical support to help people with caring responsibilities return to work, and to support families to share caring responsibilities more evenly. This includes doubling the free childcare available in England for eligible working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds to 30 hours per week, and consulting on increasing the transparency of employers' flexible working and parental leave policies, and on high-level options for reforming parental leave and pay, to allow both parents to play a greater role in childcare.