The gender gap in retirement saving has increased to a record high with women now saving an average of £776 per year less than men for use in old age, Scottish Widows said today.
According to the firm's latest annual Women and pensions report, the gap has increased from £700 a year ago. On the basis of this year's gender gap, a 30-year old woman saving the average annual amount would end up with a retirement income of £29,800 less than a male counterpart if she retired at 65.
The survey carried out by Scottish Widows for the report also found that 26% of women were saving nothing at all for retirement, compared to 23% last year. In contrast, less than one in five (19%) of men surveyed said they were not saving for retirement.
Lynn Graves, head of business development, corporate pensions at Scottish Widows, said: 'Important differences in lifestyle such as being more likely to work part-time or have a full-time caring role mean women often find it more difficult to save for the long-term and retirement.
'It has therefore never been more important for the pensions industry, government and employers to raise awareness of this gender gap in retirement savings and help women prioritise their pensions.'
Scottish Widows found a significant fall in the amount women are saving every month towards their retirement - down from £130 in the same report last year to £95 - while among men the average rose from £174 per month to £185. This drop could reduce a 30-year old woman's final retirement fund by £16,000 in today's money, while the slight increase in men's average saving rates would equate to a £5,000 boost in their pension pot.
Female respondents said they were prioritising other spending needs ahead of retirement saving, with 31% of those questioned putting debt repayments ahead of pensions commitments and 42% prioritising living expenses.
Almost a third (31%) of women also said the main reason for them to increase their retirement savings was to 'save for a rainy day' - a finding Scottish Widows said showed that retirement was not a top priority for working age women today.
Graves added: 'This "rainy day" attitude reveals that many women view their savings as a pot to dip into to cover unexpected costs at any time and not as a fund to be ring-fenced and protected for the future to pay for retirement.
'Although there is a clear need to balance everyday living costs with unexpected expenditure shocks, this can't be at the expense of women protecting themselves in old age.'