Pension Gender Divide
Older women have achieved improved equality, pay and maternity rights for today’s younger women: As we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th, spare a thought for current cohorts of women coming up to or just reaching retirement. Throughout their lives, they have paved the way for younger women, as they fought for maternity rights and equal pay, as well as battling gender discrimination in other areas of the workplace. Female employment conditions are vastly better nowadays than when the babyboomer women were starting out.
But women still losing out in both State and Private pensions: There remains a significant – albeit narrowing – gender pay gap especially for older women, and one area where all women still lose out relative to men – and always have done – is in pensions. Women are still very much the poor relations when it comes to pensions. Both for state pensions and private pensions, women’s prospects are worse than men’s.
Mums are supposed to get credit for State Pension when looking after young children: Mothers who stay at home to look after their young children are supposed to be eligible for credit towards their State Pension, so they do not lose out while bringing up their family.
But new unfairness in National Insurance denies State Pension rights to many women: In fact, brand new unfairness has recently been introduced into our National Insurance system that will penalise many younger women. The recent decision to deny Child Benefit to families where one partner earns more than £60,000 has a little-known side-effect of stripping many middle class women of their State Pension entitlements.
Mothers have to claim Child Benefit even though they know they’re not entitled to it: The credit for State Pension is only automatically added to their National Insurance record when they claim Child Benefit. Those mothers who know they are not eligible for Child Benefit because their family income is above the limit are actually supposed to apply for the benefit anyway, in order to get homecare credit for their State Pension.
If they don’t claim the Child Benefit they’re not entitled to, they can’t backdate it: Firstly, it seems ludicrous to expect women to apply for a benefit they know they are not entitled to. But more importantly, if these women discover that they have lost their State Pension credit, they cannot claim it later. The new rules mean women can only backdate a claim for three months, otherwise that pension year is lost for ever. If they have not claimed within the three month window and find out about this later, the Government does not allow them the credit.