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WASPI women and the UK’s pension divide

Updated: Apr 29

A plant in a pot full of coins

Around 3.8 million women are thought to have been underpaid by their state pension due to the state pension age changes. The pension age change was brought in by the 1995 Conservative Government’s State Pension Act which included plans to increase women’s state pension age from 60 to 65 so that it was the same as men’s. While this was a huge step forward for pension equality, the downfall was a disastrous lack of communication.

As an all-female team, we are deeply invested in women achieving financial equality and to bring awareness to this important topic, we have analysed the most recent Personal Income Statistics to investigate the pension disparity between men and women in the UK. As a result, we’ve found that men in the UK have a staggering 26.63% more in their annual state pension than women.

Out of all UK countries, England has the largest disparity with men having 27.78% more in their state pension pots, followed by Wales at 23.60%, Scotland at 23.44%, and Northern Ireland at 12.54%.

A graph displaying the difference in annual pension income between men and women in the UK

Only a few men have been impacted by the pension age change compared to the number of women. And with these new figures highlighting the significant differences between women’s and men’s state pensions, it seems that UK women are yet again drawing the short straw (to put it mildly). 


A campaign for justice

Since 2015, Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) has been campaigning to give compensation to the women affected by state pension age changes. WASPI, a generation of women born in the 1950s affected by the changes to the state pension age, argue that they were not properly advised and informed of these changes. 

According to WASPI: “Significant changes to the age we receive our state pension have been imposed upon us with a lack of appropriate notification, with little or no notice and much faster than we were promised – some of us have been hit by more than one increase.”

When MPs recently discussed this topic in Westminster, they cited a 2004 DWP survey, which asked working-age adults about awareness of state pension age equalisation and showed only 2% cited the Pension Service as their source of information. 

Because of this, hundreds of thousands of women are now suffering financial hardship, with not enough time to re-plan for their retirement. Additionally, more than 260,000 women impacted by the state pension changes have died since the fight for justice began in 2015. This is why compensation needs to be delivered with immediate effect and the call for pension equality is more prevalent than ever. 

Who is affected by the pension age change?

The state pension age change affects all women born in the 1950s (on or after 6th April 1950 to 5th April 1960), some men, and those who reached pension age later, may also be impacted.

In WASPI’s own words, “Because of the way the increases were brought in, women born in the 1950s - on or after 6th April 1950 to 5th April 1960 - have been hit particularly hard.”

If you think you’ve been affected by the state pension age change, Money Saving Expert has published a thorough guide on the different groups likely to have been underpaid and discusses who should check and/or make a claim on their state pension. 

So, what happens now?

Over the next few weeks, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) will discuss whether the Government acted unfairly by not providing women with enough information about the state pension age change. If the PHSO reaches a verdict in their favour, all women affected by the state pension age change will receive compensation. 

WASPI is hoping that women will be granted at least £10,000 each in compensation, with SNP MP Alan Brown telling the House of Commons this would be the “most appropriate” amount to offer.

Considering the Treasury saved over £200 billion through the changes that were made to women's state pensions, it’s only fair that the affected women be granted reasonable compensation – and quickly. 

After a nine-year campaign spearheaded by WASPI, the long-awaited final decision is finally within reach. In just a few short weeks the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may owe millions of women the compensation they deserve. While this could be a small win for women and pension equality, the pension divide between men and women in the UK is evident. 

Riannon Palmer, Founder and Managing Director of Lem-uhn comments: “Our research highlights the persistent obstacles women and non-binary individuals encounter in securing their financial future. True equality demands not only improved communication but a systemic overhaul. We need fairer policies that address the gender pay gap, ensure equal access to workplace pensions, and dismantle barriers to career advancement. Only then can we guarantee women and non-binary individuals the financial security they deserve in retirement. This isn't just about fairness; it's about unlocking the full potential of our workforce and creating a more equitable society for all."

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