Ros Altmann: "The gender pension gap is still great and new barriers have been introduced"
The statutory retirement age of women and men may be the same at the age of 65, but injustice remains in place when it comes to retirement provision.
This is according to former retirement minister and activist Ros Altmann.
She says this is a money with ten options, as she believes that women are still being punished for pensions – and the possible solutions.
The retirement age for men and women is being harmonized today.
After decades of differences – when women aged 60 received state pension, while men had to wait until age 65 – this is the historic date on which both women and men will reach the age of 65.
The retirement age for women has increased since 2010, following the legislation adopted in 1995. However, new measures in 2011 accelerated the increase, and the retirement age for men and women will continue to rise to 66 by 2020.
However, equal national retirement age does not mean the equality of pensions. Women have always had lower pensions than men, exposing them to a higher risk of later poor life, especially as women tend to live longer than men.
An increasing proportion of women are single and can not rely on a partner's pension for retirement income.
Women over the age of 50 have lost the most, but younger women are also penalized, as all pensions – state, occupational and private pensions – discriminate against women.
Although women have made tremendous progress in the implementation of glass ceilings in the workplace, the gender pension gap remains high and new barriers have been introduced.
While some inequalities are many decades back, others are new problems created by recent legislation.
Even the new state pension system and recent political changes are leading to new injustices that affect women, not men.
Here are the top 10 reasons why I believe why women lose pensions compared to men and what action is needed to address them.
The government must take urgent action to address these loopholes that cause problems for so many women.
1. The retirement age of women has increased more than that of men with shorter lead times
The government increased the retirement age for older women by up to 18 months with a five-year deadline, leaving many of them with insufficient time to prepare.
Men had a notice period of at least seven years for an increase of 12 months.
The short-term changes have greatly distressed many women, especially since many of the plans of 1995 to raise the retirement age of 60 had no idea.
Remedy: The government should consider making payments to women in need.
Many women are completely dependent on the state pension for their pension income and have no time to build private pensions.
The Department of Labor and Pensions could also consider providing early access to state pensions when needed.
2. The triple blocking of the state pension discriminates against women
The much acclaimed "Triple Lock", which seeks to boost public pensions to the max of price inflation, income inflation or 2.5 percent, leaves out the poorest and oldest retirees, most of whom are women.
More than half a million people over the age of 80 (of whom nearly 450,000 are single women) receive a pension loan – an income-related benefit to lift pensioners out of poverty.
This income for the poorest pensioners is only tied to income, while the new state pension (which pays more than pension credit) is tripled.
Remedy: Make sure that the pension loan is just as protected as the state pensions.
The unfairness remains: Younger women are also penalized, as all pensions – state, company and private pensions – discriminate against them, says Baroness Altmann
3. Very low earners (mostly women) are excluded from National Insurance National Pension
Tens of thousands of working women receive no credit for their state pension.
Anyone earning less than £ 6,032 on one or more jobs will not receive a state pension credit at all.
If they did not work or earned more (between £ 6,032 and £ 8,424), they can not pay state insurance under the rules, but can "earn" one year of state pension.
The inflexibility of the national insurance system excludes those who may have multiple jobs but each pay less than £ 6,032.
The government has known this anomaly for years, but did not address it.
Remedy: The government should lower or abolish the lower income threshold and allow all workers with multiple jobs, regardless of their income, to receive a state pension loan for each job.
4. Women who do not apply for child benefit – even if they are not entitled to it – lose their state pension
Families whose partners earn more than £ 60,000 are not eligible for child benefit.
But mothers have to claim it, even though they know that they are not entitled to it!
If they are not eligible for this benefit, they know that they can not get social security, and they do not pay Social Security otherwise, they lose credits for their state pension they would otherwise be entitled to.
And they can not backdate credits by more than three months if they see this in years to come.
Remedy: Make sure that all women caring for children can claim state-pension loans and can fully revoke their claims.
5. Occupational pensions discriminate against women
Women have a lower lifetime income and thus lower occupational pensions.
Women's occupational pensions suffer from lower pay packages, interrupted careers and caring responsibilities.
As principal caregivers of children and adult relatives, women usually work fewer years and earn less than men.
Women were often forced to leave the company pension scheme when they were married or working part-time and worked in occupations where occupational pensions were less prevalent.
Remedy: Help women to receive a pension during maternity leave or childcare and encourage employers or their partners to contribute to them.
STEVE WEBB answers your pension questions
6. Automatic Registration excludes anyone earning less than £ 10,000 a year (mostly women).
The automatic registration excludes millions of women.
Anyone earning less than £ 10,000 a year – often part-time workers who are mostly women – will not be automatically enrolled in a pension and will not receive a free employer contribution.
If they have more than one job, but each pay less than £ 10,000, they miss the behavioral shocks that have been so successful in expanding coverage.
Remedy: Remove the income limit of £ 10,000 for automatic registration.
7. Low earners (mostly women) often pay a 25% surcharge for their company pension
Those who earn between £ 10,000 and £ 11,850 (£ 12,500 as of next April) and are automatically included in their employer's pension often have to pay 25 percent overpay for their pension.
This affects more women than men and is unknown to most people.
If the employer uses a particular type of old-age pension scheme that operates on a so-called net wage basis, the tax relief they have in another scheme must be paid to their pension scheme.
This is one of the biggest injustices in pensions. Low-income women need the most help to build pensions, but they have to pay so much more without knowing it.
Remedy: Prohibition of pensioners and employers to transfer employees to pension insurance systems if they do not receive the 25 per cent premium.
8. The company pension scheme can not merge women's pensions after maternity
Women in pension insurance, who take time off to pay their children and then return to work, often lose in comparison to men who have not interrupted their careers.
Some pension schemes reject the pooling of retirement benefits, which results in these women receiving far lower pensions at retirement age.
What are final salaries and defined contribution pensions?
Generous gilded defined benefit or final pensions provide a guaranteed income after retirement until you die.
Most private sector employers have replaced them with stricter and riskier contributory pensions.
These take contributions from both the employer and the employee and invest them to provide a sum of money upon retirement, but the employee bears the entire investment risk.
Remedy: To encourage pensioners to ensure the maintenance of women's pension rights during caring responsibilities.
9. Many men buy life annuities that do not care for their widow
For contributory pensions, the rules of the past encouraged men to buy only individual life annuities because they were asked to look for the best interest rate.
These pension schemes do not provide protection for a spouse so that women do not have a private pension if they are widowed.
Remedy: Register automatically anyone who wants to withdraw money from their pension, or buy a pension in the free PensionWise consultation.
10. Women's pensions are not adequately protected in divorce
Although the law permits the distribution of pensions in divorce, many women do not take this into account in their comparison and thus lose their retirement.
But even with agreed divorce arrangements for the distribution of pensions, former wives may still be inferior, as new rules on pension rights may jeopardize the divorce pensions of women.
Pension pledgers are not required to obtain the consent of the partner to a pension decision before transferring a final salary pension.
Remedy: Make sure that all women on pension contracts have a formal permit before former husbands can transfer or withdraw money from their pension.
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