The following are priorities that Women in Super focuses on in order to improve retirement outcomes for Australian women:
The tax concessions in superannuation are skewed towards high income earners. A more equitable redistribution of tax concessions is one of the measures which could make a meaningful impact on the Super gender gap. There should be a holistic examination of the taxation arrangements in superannuation and changes introduced which improve equity and reduce the gender savings gap. There should not be ad hoc and piecemeal changes to superannuation taxation arrangements in the budget context. Savings made through changes to tax concessions or contribution caps must be kept within the super system and used to improve outcomes for women.
In 2015 / 2016 Women in Super campaigned heavily to save the LISC (Low Income Super Contribution), a payment of up to $500 made by the Federal Government into the super accounts of approximately 3.6 million Australian workers earning $37,000 a year or less. The aim of this payment was to help low-income earners save for retirement and compensate them for the tax they paid on their compulsory super guarantee contributions which exceeded their marginal tax rate. It is a vital measure to help women overcome the super savings gap. Without it, about 1 in 2 working women and 80% of the female part-time workforce will receive a tax penalty for saving for their retirement.
In November 2016 the federal government announced that it would not scrap the LISC but was relaunching it under the new name of the LISTO, Low Income Superannuation Tax Offset which will apply from 2 July 2017. Women in Super does not believe that the current LISTO is sufficient to enable low income earners (mainly women) to save for their retirement and would like to see an improvement or enhancement to the LISTO so that a meaningful contribution is made to the super accounts of low income earners. Without direct and targeted programs women will continue to face economic insecurity in retirement.
The current 9.5% superannuation guarantee will not enable most women to accrue sufficient superannuation for a comfortable retirement. It is important for women that the SG is increased to 12% as soon as possible.
Around 220,000 Australian women and 145,000 Australian men miss out on super as they do not meet the requirement to earn $450 per month (before tax) from one employer (many women work more than one part-time job).
Many women miss out on thousands of dollars of super and in fact, their super savings stagnate and begin to fall behind those of men during the child rearing years. We believe that super should be paid on PPL in the same way that it is paid on other leave - holiday, sick etc.
Women and men, in many cases, face very different challenges in saving for retirement. A number of factors act against women reaching the best possible retirement outcome and these factors include: the gender segregation of the Australian workforce (amongst the most segregated of the OECD countries); women tend to be heavily concentrated in the lower paid and undervalued sectors such as nursing, aged care, retail, hospitality and education; there is a substantially higher concentration of women in the part-time workforce due to their desire for flexibility to enable them to balance work and caring responsibilities (women make up the majority of primary carers for children, the elderly and sick partners); and, the gender pay gap.
For the reasons listed above, the impact of tax, economic and social policy outcomes can have different consequences for women as opposed to men. Many policies have the unintentional consequence of disadvantaging (or benefitting) one gender over the other – they are not gender neutral. Australia was a pioneer in gender budget analysis when, in 1983, it introduced the Women’s Budget Statement. With the removal of this Statement in 2014, Australia fell behind our OECD counterparts and there is now no systematic process in place to assess the impacts on women and men of proposed policies. Without understanding the implications of proposed policies the Federal Government has no mechanism in place to take the necessary steps to redress the policy outcomes to achieve the desired economic efficiency or success. WIS, like many other organisations, believes that we could take actions to rectify the gender super and gender pay gap if we made it a priority. Reinstating the Women’s Budget Statement would be a step in the right direction.
Women in Super advocates on issues relating to women and their superannuation, and women working in the superannuation sector.
Below are WIS's current policy positions: