more security in retirement are key elements of pensions reform,
Harriet Harman, secretary of state for social security and minister
for women said.
'Women pensioners are more likely to be poor. Seventy per cent of
pensioners on income support are women.
'Fewer women than men have an adequate second pension. Women's
average incomes from occupational pensions are around£30 a week,
compared with around£50 a week for men.'
Ms Harman cited part-time working, caring and domestic
responsibilities and more interruptions to paid work as reasons why
women are worse off as pensioners.
'Personal pensions often penalise women who take career breaks.
'Charges for a typical personal pension can absorb up to thirty per
cent of a woman's savings by the time of her retirement.
'I intend to put in place a framework for pension provision which
ensures that the pension position of women will improve.
'I am already examining ways of delivering more automatic help to the
poorest of today's pensioners - 700,000 of whom are women. I will
retain the basic state pension as the foundation of pension provision
uprating it in line with prices.
'For the future I am committed to:
- creating a new framework of stakeholder pensions for those who cannot join an employer's occupational scheme because of low earnings
- introducing a citizenship pension for carers who are unable to contribute to a second pension because of their caring responsibilities
- working in partnership with the pensions industry, family lawyers and others to deliver pension sharing arrangements by April 2000, to give women access to a second pension on divorce
'We have given a clear commitment to pensioners - to support those
who need it most and lay the foundations for security in retirement