Women and Pensions

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2006 National Women's Conference
6 March 2006

Conference recognises the current crisis surrounding pensions and all our futures upon retirement. We also recognise that for women the situation is far worse than that of men and are, therefore, grateful for the work that UNISON continues to do with the Fawcett Society on the inequality for women in our pensions systems.

Conference welcomes UNISON’s campaign to defend occupational pension schemes on behalf of its members. However, the whole pension situation for women is fraught with difficulty.

Conference notes:

1)2.2 million women are not accruing a basic state pension under the current rules, because the earn too little or have taken time out of employment to care for dependants;

2)that many women retire with no occupational pension and receive less than the full basic state pension. For every £1 received by a man in a pensioner couple, a woman receives just 32p;

3)that one in four single women will find themselves living in poverty as pensioners;

4)that the current state pension scheme was designed in the 1940s for men. Many young women are still reliant on their partners for the future state pension;

5)the gender pay gap means women earn less and ultimately secure smaller state and occupational pensions.

The government has recognised that women’s pensions are a national scandal and has the analysis to prove it through the Women and Pensions report published in November 2005. With the publication of the Turner Report, a workable set of recommendations for reform are now available. However, the intention to simply feed these into the National Pensions debate only introduces further delays. Unless the government puts women at the heart of its pension reform and urgently, its attempts to solve the UK’s pension crisis will fail.

We congratulate UNISON on the production of the Women and Pensions A5 booklet, however Conference believes that a women and pensions leaflet would be a resource that could potentially be more cost-effective and reach a wider audience.

Conference calls upon the National Women’s Committee to work with the National Executive Council to:

a)campaign in support of the recommendations of the Turner report which relate to women’s pensions, in particular linking the basic state pension to earnings;

b)campaign for individual rights for women to receive a state pension such as through a universal state pension, as recommended by the Turner report;

c)campaign for a platform for savings for pensioners;

d)campaign to ensure that measures are taken to give the current generation of women over 75 a decent state pension to ensure that they do not live in poverty;

e)campaign for national insurance credits for women taking time out of the workplace to care for children or older family members;

f)produce women specific materials designed to encourage women members to join occupational pension schemes and a user friendly, easy to understand pension leaflet available in different languages within six months.