Women penalised on pensions

09 February 2004
Charity groups have revealed this week that female pensioners are being deprived of income.

Breaks taken from work to bring up children or to take care of elderly relatives lead to interrupted work records and 'meagre' state pensions, the charities explained.

Age Concern and the Fawcett Society claim the rules as they stand are inflexible - as well as preventing many women from accumulating rights for a basic state pension in their own name. The charities say a quarter of single women in retirement are currently in poverty and, typically, receive 32p for every £1 of income received by a man.

Unless the Government reforms the state pension system, the charities say, future generations of women, especially carers and mothers who stay at home, as well as low-paid workers, will face poverty in retirement.

Women are being penalised by an "unfair and outdated" system of calculating state pension rights, charities claimed.

Michelle Mitchell, head of public affairs at Age Concern, said: "More than a year ago in the Green Paper the government acknowledged that the pension system is failing women, but there's still no sign of action.

"There is a growing anger from women of all ages that the government isn't listening to them. If the government fails to act, it will break its promise to create opportunity for all and it could prove costly at the ballot box.

"Future governments will also be saddled with the spiralling costs of means-testing, as women pensioners are twice as likely as men to need means-tested benefits to boost their retirement income."