WOMEN in Scotland face retirement with 33% less in their pension savings than men, new analysis has revealed.

The inequality in the pension pots of men and women is now nearly double that of the gender pay gap, according the research.

The gender pay gap was at 17.3% in 2019 and last year the Scottish Government launched a "fairer Scotland for women" campaign to bridge that chasm.

But a new study conducted for the Prospect union found that the gap between the pension earnings of women and men in Scotland is more than twice that at 33%.

That represents an average difference in pension income by gender of £5,745 a year.

Prospect is calling for an inquiry by the Work and Pensions Committee on the gap and says there should be a statutory requirement for the government to report to Parliament on plans for tackling it The study says that one of the reasons for the imbalance is the impact of women taking breaks from paid employment or reducing hours worked to look after family.

READ MORE: 'No discrimination' - Defeat for 'Waspi women' as judges rule out state pension compensation

It is also blamed on the cumulative impact over time of women earning less on average than men.

The report also factors in what it calls "indirect gender discrimination" that is built into the pension system itself, including the disproportionate exclusion of women from being automatically enrolled into a pension scheme.

HeraldScotland: The Department for Work and Pensions

The union says the "shocking" retirement income gap is also the result of historic inequalities in the state pension, which will not fully be addressed until 2041 — and even then, only for women who reach state pension age from that year onward.

The report authors said: "Unless the causes of the gender pension gap are addressed, women will continue to have disproportionality lower retirement incomes than men and this is unacceptable."

It came as millions of women born in the 1950s lost a fight for a financial settlement over controversial changes to the state pension age after the Court of Appeal ruled they were not discriminated against.

The so-called WASPI [Women Against State Pension Inequality] women who have seen their state pension age increase from 60 to 65, have been told by judges that they will not receive any compensation for lost state pension income.

Joanne Welch, founder of the BackTo60 campaign, said the group’s legal team was “actively looking” at appealing to the Supreme Court. She described the decision as “unconscionable”, adding that there is “no doubt in our minds that it’s discrimination”.

Sue Ferns, Prospect senior deputy general secretary, the gender pension gap had increased slightly across the UK but "more worryingly" it has remained effectively unchanged for five years.

“The number of women who are now saving for their retirement through a workplace pension scheme has increased significantly since the introduction of automatic enrolment. However, it is widely known that the current criteria to be eligible for automatic enrolment disproportionately excludes women," she said.

“If the gender pension gap is going to be tackled, reforms need to be made to reduce the earnings trigger, ensure that pension contributions are paid from the first pound of earnings and for the net pay anomaly to be fixed. The impact of making these changes will mean that more women are saving for their retirement and at a meaningful level.” The level of the gender pension gap within the UK nations continues to differ with Scotland lower than the UK pension gap of 40.3%.

The research comes over a quarter of a century after the then chancellor Kenneth Clarke announced in his 1993 Budget that the women’s pension age would be brought into line with men’s at 65 by 2020 — a deadline that was later brought forward to 2018.

At the time, the government argued that the female state pension age needed to rise, in part because women were increasingly playing a role equal to men in the economy and typically lived longer.

The state pension age was set to rise from 65 to 66 by October this year, and to increase again to 67 by 2028.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We are helping people save for their futures and Automatic Enrolment has helped millions more women save into a pension, many for the first time.

“Our priority remains to create and protect jobs – and support retirement saving.”