Gender Pension Gap increases to 40.3% new Prospect research shows

15 September 2020

Prospect research shows the Gender Pension Gap, the gap between the pension earnings of women and men, has increased by 0.4% year-on-year to 40.3% in 2018-19. This is more than twice the gender pay gap of 17.3% in 2019 and represents an average difference in pension income by gender of about £7,500 a year.

Download the full report

This is the second year in a row the gender pension gap has increased and overall the gap has remained stubbornly constant at around 40% for the last five years.

Prospect is launching the document today (Tuesday) at TUC congress.

The government itself still does not measure the Gender Pensions Gap.

Sue Ferns, Prospect senior deputy general secretary, said:

“The gender pension gap has increased slightly but more worrying is that it has remained effectively unchanged for five years.

“The number of women who are now saving for their retirement through a workplace pension scheme has increased significantly since the introduction of automatic enrolment. However, it is widely known that the current criteria to be eligible for automatic enrolment disproportionately excludes women.

“If the gender pension gap is going to be tackled, reforms need to be made to reduce the earnings trigger, ensure that pension contributions are paid from the first pound of earnings and for the net pay anomaly to be fixed. The impact of making these changes will mean that more women are saving for their retirement and at a meaningful level.”

The main reasons for the gender pension gap are:

  • An imbalance in the level of occupational and private pension saving between men and women. This has occurred and continues to be the case for many reasons including:
  • The impact of women taking breaks from paid employment or reducing hours worked to look after family
  • The cumulative impact over time of women earning less on average than men (the gender pay gap).
  • The indirect gender discrimination that is built into the pension system itself, including the disproportionate exclusion of women from being automatically enrolled into a pension scheme.
  • Inequality in the average level of state pension awarded to men and women. This is not projected to be fully addressed until about 2041 (but only for people reaching State Pension Age from that year)

The level of the gender pension gap within the UK nations continues to differ by some margin with Scotland and Northern Ireland far lower than elsewhere in the UK.

Gender pension gap by nation (2018-19)








Northern Ireland



The report also highlights that the participation rates in workplace pension schemes have increased for all, but especially for women. 

Prospect is calling for:

  • A statutory requirement for the government to report to Parliament on the gender pension gap and its plans for tackling it
  • Reform of automatic enrolment from the earliest possible date
  • An inquiry by the Work and Pensions Committee on the gender pension gap
  • An additional state pension credit for those who are not working because they are looking after children under 12
  • Measures that make affordable childcare more widely available so that people who want to return to work can do so
  • An independent Commission to consider the appropriate level of contributions under automatic enrolment
  • A concerted campaign to encourage higher take-up of credits that can boost women’s pension income
  • Changes to the tax system to resolve the ‘net pay anomaly’ whereby low earners do not benefit from tax relief on their contributions.