Gender bias will create pension poverty for all women until 2100

Inequality means half the population will be blindly fighting economic discrimination into the next century. It is time we defused this ticking time bomb, warns Kate Hughes

Friday 24 January 2020 13:38 GMT
Pensioner poverty rises as longevity creeps up
Pensioner poverty rises as longevity creeps up (Getty)

These days they are known as the silent generation – the age group that somehow survived years of apocalyptic global warfare and years more of crippling austerity. They oversaw the introduction of the NHS, paying far more into the state in taxes than they ever got out. If they’re still alive, and especially if they are female, there’s a real chance they are now financially destitute.

A quarter of the UK’s oldest single females, reliant entirely on their state pension for income, are living below the poverty line, according to data from several prominent age charities. With few years of national insurance (NI) to make them eligible for much state support, and traditionally reliant on their partner’s savings after retirement, these long-living women who have seen the full spectrum of what life can throw their way are ignored by politicians, businesses and society at large.

The stories of women living in a single room, spending the last of their days deciding whether to turn the lights on or heat their food, haunt us. Or at least they should. Because while we are all distracted by the extraordinary spending power of the baby boomer generation, history is repeating itself. Not by those retiring today or even in a decade – though there are plenty of struggling female pensioners there too – but by the youngest generation of British women. Few of them have a clue what they are sleepwalking into.

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