Female teachers' pension pots a third smaller, analysis finds

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
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The pension pots of female teachers are almost one-third smaller than those for men, analysis has revealed.

An analysis of Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) data finds that while women in 2020/21 received an average of £11,581 a year, men got £16,034 – a gap of 28 per cent.

The main factor behind the gap is the pension growth that is lost when members of the TPS take time to have and raise children.

While teachers can take leave of up to a year – during which time they remain in employment – statutory maternity pay only covers 39 weeks. This leaves three months where teachers receive no pensionable income at all if they are on leave.

Research by financial services mutual Wesleyan found that two in five female teachers in England were unaware that taking maternity leave will reduce their final pension pot. This rises to more than half of female teachers in their 20s.

Pension growth is hit harder if a teacher leaves their employment entirely to meet care-giving responsibilities, such as taking a career break to raise children.

The analysis is based on the TPS annual accounts for 2020/21 as well as surveys of around 6,000 teaching staff. Wesleyan warns that many female teachers could be at risk of not having enough money to meet their needs in retirement, should current trends continue.

Its research found that 57 per cent of female teachers expect to need more than £25,001 a year in their retirement – a gap of at least £13,420 a year, when held against the £11,581 average for 2021/21.

Linda Wallace, director of Wesleyan Financial Services, said: “Factors like career breaks to meet caring responsibilities are contributing to shockingly disparate pension pots for men and women in the teaching profession.

“These figures not only highlight a gulf in the pension women and men have to access in retirement, but also the shortfall women face in their retirement income. Even if the maximum state pension of £9,339 a year is taken into account, many female teachers could be at risk of being without the money they expect they’ll need.

“The pension impact of career breaks won’t just affect female teachers alone – anyone taking family leave or time out of employment could be affected. With that in mind, it’s imperative that teachers are carefully and regularly reviewing their plans to ensure they aren’t caught out.”

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