WOMEN face working well past retirement age or becoming increasingly dependent on their partner’s finances as research reveals men have three times more in pensions savings – a difference of nearly £50,000.

On average, women are saving about £24,900 for their pension compared to £73,600 saved by men, according to findings from Edinburgh- based insurance firm Aegon.

Former pensions minister Steve Webb, now director of policy at pensions and investment company Royal London, said there is a real risk of the differences in wages between men and women becoming “magnified” when it came to retirement.

He added: “With a state pension of just £8,000 per year, having a decent private pension will make the difference between a bare minimum in retirement and a decent quality of life.

“There is a danger that married women in particular will face a choice between having to work on well past traditional retirement ages or being financially dependent on their husbands. We are still a long way from full financial independence for women, whether in the world of work or the world of pensions.”

The latest findings of Aegon’s Readiness Report also showed that women’s levels of engagement about their pension were less than men.

The study, two years on from greater pension freedoms introduced by George Osborne, found that more than two-fifths of women had never reviewed or taken any action that affects their plans for retirement and just one-fifth had engaged with it in the last six months.

This compares to one-quarter of men who said they had checked or amended their pension plan in the last six months.

Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, said a number of reasons contributed to the “stark” difference.

She said an auto-enrolment policy had successfully introduced 7.6 million people to workplace pensions, but the gender pay gap, which is currently 13.9 per cent, meant that men were effectively saving more “without even thinking about it”.

Ms Smith added: “Women often face a more disrupted savings journey due to maternity leave and working part-time, juggling a career and children, so it’s crucial that they actively engage with their pension savings. Burying heads in the sand is simply not an option.

“It’s concerning that over a third of women in the UK don’t know how much they have saved in their pension.

“Without this vital information it’s impossible to know what to do next. Knowledge is power after all, and the more they do now to build up their pension knowledge, the better their retirement will be.”

She added that both the industry and employers had an important role in making pensions more accessible for women.

However, Kirstein Rummery, professor of Social Policy and co-director of the Centre For Gender and Feminist Studies at the University of Stirling, said there was a “collective responsibility” to make up the economic shortfall, rather than place the burden on women themselves.

Ms Rummery, who is also Scottish policy spokeswoman for the Women’s Equality Party, said: “Women are far more likely than men to take time out from work for childcare and caring responsibilities, and to earn substantially less than men overall.

“They therefore have access to less income from which to save for their pension, and are more likely than men to be relying on the state pension when they retire.

“It isn’t enough to point the finger at women and say they should save more. We need to see a fairer distribution of caring work, higher and fairer incomes for women and better support for people who are on low wages or not able to work full-time.

“That is a collective responsibility that, for economic growth and prosperity, should be shared by the state, employers and individuals, rather than relying on women to make up the shortfall themselves.”

The research, which sampled 2,004 people, also acknowledged there was an overall trend that the value of women’s pension savings was still increasing, despite the widening gender pay gap.

Labour MP Ian Murray welcomed the signs of improvement, but said the figures were “deeply troubling”, while a spokesman for the SNP said the party was committed to cutting the gender pay gap, which was “crucial” in ending gender inequality in pensions.