One major cause of pensions gender gap is that many women take a career break to have children

According to new figures from the Prudential Class of 2009 retirement survey, UK women who plan to retire in 2009 can each expect to receive £6,642 a year less in their annual pensions than men, equivalent to a total income shortfall of more than £42 billion.

The 2.76 million women planning to retire in 2009 can expect to receive an average annual pension of just £13,671, while the 3.95 million men who plan to retire in 2009 will get £6,642 more, expecting an average pension of £20,313.

“It’s still a shock to see so many women retiring at such a disadvantage to their male colleagues, despite all we know about the causes of pension discrepancies between men and women,” said Karin BrownAnnuities Business Director at Prudential.

“The gender gap has become so firmly established because women have historically earned less than men, and still earn around 17% less. When women have children, their pension contributions reduce significantly or stop altogether, and their state pensions often take a hit as well.

“The underlying problem that many people have insufficient pensions is never going to go away unless men and women start their pension plan much earlier in life, ideally in their twenties or thirties,” Karin added. “Starting a pension at an early age will lessen the impact in later life of many women’s decision to take a career break to have children. It will also mean people can feel confident that they are going to have enough money to live off when they do come to retire, and this is vitally important for women who expect to receive smaller pensions than men.”

One major cause of pensions gender gap is that many women take a career break to have children, but it is possible to protect future pensions and maintain a pension during this time. Women could also consider trying to keep up any company pensions or private pension contributions even if they are on maternity leave or an extended career.

Other causes include:
Neglecting pension savings
– As many as 61% of retiring people doubt their pension and other savings will provide a sufficient income to enable them to enjoy a comfortable life in retirement.

Not saving enough
– A rule of thumb is for people to try and save half of their age as a percentage of their salary into a pension scheme, for example 12.5% at age 25 and so on.

Not taking advantage of company schemes
– Many employers offer pension schemes and agree to match any contributions made by employees. People should enquire about the pensions scheme offered by their employers.

Not shopping around
– People in retirement have a wide choice of annuities available to them and it is recommended that they shop around for the product which is most suitable for their needs.

The information contained in Prudential UK’s press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions. Full consumer product information can be found at

Survey conducted online by Research Plus among 1,000 UK adults aged 45+ between 10-18 November 2008. Figures based on Office of National Statistics 2007 which show 24,990,500 adults aged 45+ in the UK. For further information please contact the Prudential media department.

About Prudential
“Prudential” is a trading name of The Prudential Assurance Company Limited, which is registered in England and Wales. This name is also used by other companies within the Prudential Group, which between them provide a range of financial products including life assurance, pensions, savings and investment products. Registered Office at Laurence Pountney Hill, London EC4R 0HH. Registered number 15454. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

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Mortgage Debt: Comment On Housing Equity Injection

Responding to news that homeowners had injected a record £8 billion into housing equity in the final quarter of 2008, debt management company Gregory Pennington stressed that this reversal of a long-term trend was due to a combination of factors, rather than any single event.

“Prior to Q2 2008,” said Melanie Taylor, Head of Corporate Relations for Gregory Pennington, “the last time we saw homeowners injecting money into housing equity was in Q2 1998, when they injected £279 million – a mere 3.5% of the amount injected in the final quarter of 2008.”

In the decade following 1998, of course, the average house price virtually tripled, which obviously enabled millions of homeowners to turn many billions of housing equity into cash. The highpoint of this occurred in Q4 of 2003, when £17 billion of equity was withdrawn – a full 8.5% of post-tax income.

A full decade of rapid price rises meant that homeowners were both willing and able to keep on withdrawing equity for some time after the house price boom came to an end in 2007: it wasn’t until the second quarter of 2008 that equity injections began to outweigh withdrawals.

“Standing at £1.8 billion in Q2, quarterly equity injection rapidly soared to the record level of £8 billion by Q4 – thanks to a falling base rate and a faltering housing market, as well as worries about the recession in general.

“Plummeting from 5% to 2% in Q4 alone, the falling base rate had two crucial effects on the way homeowners treated their mortgage debt. First of all, it helped people find new deals with lower monthly payments, and enabled people with existing tracker and SVR mortgages to overpay their mortgages without spending more than they were used to. Second, it led the banks and building societies to drop the rates they were paying on savers’ accounts. Many people looking for the best return on their ‘spare’ money realised that overpaying their mortgage would be much more valuable in the long run than putting their money in a savings account.

“Looking beyond interest rates and house prices, the recession itself has prompted a more conservative attitude, particularly among people who’ve experienced recessions in the past. The news has been full of repossessions, redundancies, ‘awful’ economic conditions – and a succession of dire predictions from a wide range of respected bodies, making it clear that things were expected to get a lot worse before they got better.”

Whatever the reasons, overpaying the mortgage can deliver various benefits: “Aside from reducing the amount of interest they’ll pay over the lifetime of the mortgage, overpayments can also shorten the actual term of the mortgage, meaning the homeowner will own the property outright sooner than initially expected. There’s also the question of reducing their mortgage debt and increasing the equity in the home, which can give homeowners access to mortgage deals with much lower interest rates – something which many will be keen to do as soon as possible, before the base rate has a chance to start rising again.”

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