Women and men 'now on equal footing' in terms of workplace pension participation

Women have caught up with men when it comes to workplace pensions saving participation, the Government has said.

Take-up of workplace pensions saving in the private sector has increased from 40% of eligible women in 2012 to 73% in 2016, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said.

Men have seen a corresponding increase from 43% to 73% over the same period.

The launch of automatic enrolment in 2012 has seen a huge boost in the number of people saving for their later years, with more than nine million people now enrolled into a workplace pension by their employer, many of them saving for the first time.

By later this year, it is estimated that 3.6 million women will be newly saving or saving more as a result of automatic enrolment.

Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said: "Thanks to automatic enrolment, future generations of women will enjoy the same retirement provision as men and will have the opportunity to reap the benefits of a good private income."

In December the Government published its review of automatic enrolment with a series of  plans to help build on the early success of the scheme, which has so far seen about nine in 10 people automatically enrolled staying in their pension rather than opting out.

The review set out measures to increase opportunities for part-time workers with multiple jobs to save more.

The DWP said this would significantly improve incentives for many of the 632,000 women with multiple jobs, such as mothers fitting work around childcare, and  people with caring responsibilities.

Sir Steve Webb, a former pensions minister who is now director of policy at Royal London said more work is still needed to put women on a level playing field.

He said: "While it is great news that a bigger percentage of women are now in workplace pensions, it is vital that the Government does not become complacent.

"On average, women will still end up with much smaller pensions than men.  

"This is because they still earn less on average, they are more likely to work for firms who are contributing at the legal minimum, and they are more likely to spend periods out of paid work with caring responsibilities when little or nothing is going into their pensions.

"Much more needs to be done to put women on a level playing field when it comes to workplace pensions."

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