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It’s long been known that men are more likely than women to make provision for retirement income. New research has found that almost a quarter of homeowning women over 55 do not have a private pension of their own.

The research, carried out by insurer SunLife, spoke to 1,000 people over 55 who either own their home, with or without a mortgage.

They found that 24% of women said they didn’t have a private pension. This was compared with just 6% of homeowning men.

The research also found that 22% of over 50s women said they were financially worse off at this stage in life than they expected to be.

Only 14% of men reported being financially worse off than expected. The reasons for this disparity between financial progress for women and men were varied.

70% of women felt it was the result of the rising cost of living. 47% of women surveyed placed the blame on low-interest rates.

However, 55% of men thought rising living costs were to blame, with 40% citing low-interest rates.

According to SunLife’s research, on average, women over 55 have lived in their homes for 24 years and seen their homes increase in value by around £111,000 during that time. This amount of property wealth and the absence of private pension provision raises the prospect of equity release as one way to provide income in later life.

Simon Stanney, equity release director at SunLife, said: “Downsizing is an obvious choice when it comes to releasing cash from your property, but our survey shows that 61% of women over 55 do not want to move, with more than half (56%) saying “I love my home and I can’t see myself moving in my lifetime.”

When asked why they didn’t want to move home, the main reason given was it is too stressful, and that the home is just how they want it. Some said there are too many memories associated with their homes.

When asked if they would consider equity release as an option for releasing cash, one in 34 women over 55 said they already had, and 28% said they would consider it, or already are considering it.

Simon continues: “While there will be many women who do not have a private pension but will benefit from their partners’, there will still be some women over 55 who simply do not have sufficient means to fund their retirement. However, these women may have a significant amount of equity in their homes. Many are reluctant to leave their homes, and that is when equity release can offer a solution.”

Anyone considering equity release to help fund their retirement should consider it alongside other financial planning options. It’s essential to seek professional independent financial advice before using equity release or making other irreversible financial decisions, especially in later life.

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