In May this year Which? Money published the results of access the consumer organisation had to the entire Department for Work and Pension database on pensions. The headline result press released by Which ? Money here was that women are worse off now than men by a staggering £29,000 over a 20 year old period.
The disclosure led Harry Rose, Which? Money editor, to warn : “Our evidence shows how variable people’s state pension payments still are. Many pensioners will be shocked by the differences in average payouts to men and women and those qualifying under the old and new systems.”
The issue is worth raising because just last week the Department of Work and Pensions published its annual report ( more to come in a future blog) which despite Which? Money findings from the DWP’s own database perpetuates the myth that some how today’s pensioners are living the high life with little or no housing costs and longer and longer life expectancy.
The agenda is clear – paving the way in five years time for yet another rise in the pension age – and totally ignoring the present plight of 50s women denied pensions for up to six years . Add the fact that it could take decades now before men and women receive an equal pension. The average , despite the new state pension, is still 18 per cent, below a typical male pension.
The figures revealed by the Which? Money from the DWP are extremely alarming if you are a woman. If you are a man you can be complacent – not only did you get a good deal under the old system you are the main beneficiary of the new one.
The biggest group of beneficiaries (8.4 million) – getting on average £142 a week- are today’s pensioners who have a long national insurance contributions and qualified for an earnings related pension. Of these 4,958,000 are men and 3,417,000 are women.
Above this on an average of £174 a week are the spouses of these recipients who died. and they inherited their spouses NI contributions to top up their pension They are 1,454,040 women and 276,960 men – the only category where women do better. Sadly they have to lose a partner to achieve it.
Much lower at £145 a week are those whose spouses died but they themselves did not have a pension – again most are women – 679,995 to just 2045 men.
Those unfortunate enough not to be entitled to get a pension get just an average of £63 a week based on their partner’s NI contributions – again there are 545,905 women to 1095 men.
The best off are the new state pensioners – after changes came into force in 2016 and they also had protected money to top up the new pension. They get £181 a week. But 79 per cent of these are men – 142,080 to 17,920 women. The reason for this is directly due to the plight of the 50s women who ceased to qualify for pensions at 60 and many are still waiting for one.
As anyone can see this is woefully unfair to women. It suggests there is a long way to go to get equality with men even when women eventually get their pension.
There is also a divide where the money is paid out – highest state pensions – between £153 and £154 a week – are paid out in East Hertfordshire, High Wycombe and Aberdeen. Lowest ( between £128 and £140 a week) – are paid in the London borough of Newham, Leicester, Manchester and Cornwall.
And there are huge differentials if you go abroad. Expatriats living now in Australia, Canada and New Zealand get frozen pensions averaging between £41 and £44 a week.
Those in Europe get pension increases every year – bringing Spain to an average of £107.76 a week and France to £104.39 a week.
Curiously 10 UK nationals who retired to Azerbaijan – part of the old Soviet bloc – get an average of £127 a week.
Don’t ask me why but I did discover this website which tells you how to avoid pension taxes by putting your money into an Azerbaijani off shore fund. According to the article 2400 British expats have done this and they don’t have to live there and participate in traditional Azerri sports such as ox wrestling or javelin throwing either. They can live in Malta and have the money paid into Azerbaijan to avoid tax. My guess is these must be high rollers who qualify for a state pension.
Perhaps the government should investigate this instead.