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Planning Retirement Online

Surge in 'SWOFties' living the single life   

                        February 2010

Surge in ‘SWOFties’ living the single life 

SWOFtiesThere’s a new word creeping into the vocabulary – SWOFTIES! This new acronym stands for Single Women Over Fifty, and evidently today there are more women in this group than ever before.

According to recently released statistics, in 2007 there were over 600,000 women aged 50 and above who categorised themselves as single; this is one in five of the over 50s and a rise of over five per cent in just ten years.

Look out men, because this is getting even more interesting! - a quarter of all these single women over 50 say they have never been happier. Nearly a fifth also state they use social networking sites and 17 per cent are actively dating.

The research, which was carried out by Opinium Research on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, also shows that a large proportion of these unattached female fifty- and sixty- year-olds are also reinventing themselves, with a fifth choosing to diet, a quarter volunteering for good causes and half opting to learn new skills. For those learning a new skill, computer skills are the most popular courses taken along with learning foreign languages and cooking.

Christine Northam, a counsellor with Relate, says they are seeing more and more women entering their fifties and sixties single, and many of these women are embracing this opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people and really enjoy this phase of their lives.

“The stereotype of the sad old spinster is really a myth,” she said. “Today many of these women are more glamorous and in control of their lives than they’ve ever been, making the most of these golden years.”

However, while it appears life for single women over 50 has never been better, there is a downside. The research shows that a surprisingly large number in this sector are not properly in control of their finances. It seems a quarter have no financial plans for the future and a surprising third know very little about the State Pension.

Now the Department for Work and Pensions is calling on SWOFTIES to ensure they are prepared for later life. State Pension changes coming into force next April will mean more women than ever will qualify for a State Pension – of the 180,000 women who reach State Pension age next year an additional 40,000 will get a full basic State Pension as a result of the changes. However, 20,000 more women could also get the full amount and even more top up the amount they receive if they take action now.

Pensions expert, Jasmine Birtles comments: “It's great to see so many women enjoying their later years but it’s also important these women take stock of their financial situation to ensure they have a nest-egg for their retirement.

"In the past, millions of women who opted to stay at home and care for family and children will have missed out on pension cash in retirement, but from April, changes will mean more women will be able to build up a full basic State Pension. However, it's important all women act now to find out how the changes will impact on them and how they can make the most of their State Pension so they can make the most of later life. ”

More information on changes in the State Pension is available from



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