Govt reforms can tackle super gender gap: ASFA

In the lead up to this year's Federal budget, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia is calling on the Government to take action on a worrying statistic that 80% of women won't have enough money upon retirement.

ASFA is using its new white paper, Women's Economic Security in Retirement, to push for urgent structural policy reforms needed on the growing disparity between the retirement incomes of men and women.

Between the age of 55 to 59, men have a superannuation account balance on average of $237,022, while women end up with only $123,642.

For women, this is well below the $545,000 needed for an individual to achieve a comfortable retirement, ASFA said.

ASFA chief executive Martin Fahy said it is important to take steps to close the gap, to ensure women are not condemned to experience poverty and even homelessness in retirement.

Non-profit group Homelessness Australia has identified older single women as one of the groups who are especially vulnerable to experiencing homelessness, he said.

"Older single women may be forced out the workforce early, have insufficient superannuation to fund the cost of living and face discrimination in the housing market."

Fahy said while there have been a number of positive initiatives to help women in recent years, including the Government's reforms to allow the ability to carry forward unused concessional caps and the refunding of superannuation tax for low income earners, there is more that can be done in this budget.

Some of the potential key reforms identified include lifting the Superannuation Guarantee (SG) to 12%; applying SG to the self-employed and to income replacement payments; removing the SG $450 a month threshold; reforming the Anti-Discrimination Act; allowing access to super in cases of domestic violence; and improving the operation of family law and super splitting.

In its pre-budget 2018-19 submission, ASFA noted the 1 January 2017 Age Pension changes as substantial, fiscally sustainable and won't leave the "great bulk of retirees substantially worse off," thus recommends no changes should be made.

This will be reinforced by rising superannuation account balances at retirement as the compulsory system matures, but further tightening of the asset or income test could leave many retirees worse off, it said.

By 2025, it predicts about 20% of those aged 67 will still be in paid employment and further 40% will be self-funded. Currently about 70% of over 65 year olds receive the Age Pension in part or in full.

Read more: RetirementSuperannuationASFASGAge PensionAssociation of Superannuation Funds of AustraliaHomelessness AustraliaMartin FahySuperannuation Guarantee
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