Reading time ~ mins

Pensions and savings

Taking a life-course approach to social security means recognising the ways in which the design of benefits such as Universal Credit may increase women’s financial vulnerability in later life. It also means thinking about the different patterns of paid and unpaid work among women and men over a lifetime when analysing policies to tackle poverty in later life such as pensions and savings.

For example, in the UK both private and state pensions were designed around the assumption of a full-time worker, in employment all their adult life. WBG has produced a series of briefings pointing out that a pension system based on these assumptions increases the risk of poverty in old age for women, who are more likely to work part-time, or take time out of paid work be-cause of caring responsibilities. Although the UK state pension system does allow women to be credited for time out of the workplace caring for children, private pensions do not and the lev-el of the basic state pension remains low.

Private pension schemes favour those with continuous full-time employment and high lifetime earnings, disadvantaging women who are more likely to work part-time, take career breaks and earn less than men. Because of their earlier caring roles, women therefore do badly when older from a system which relies on people having private pensions to sustain reasonable incomes in old age. WBG has therefore argued that the government should put more money into the state pension system and give fewer tax breaks to those who can afford to save in private pensions.