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BBC pension deficit soars to £2.6bn

An increase of more than one billion pounds in the BBC’s pension deficit has been blamed on low interest rates and weak economic conditions, with the total deficit figure now reaching £2.6bn.

Despite the value of the pension scheme’s investment in assets rising from £8.9bn to £9.3bn over the 12 months to April 2012, the corporation’s pension trustees’ interim funding check on Monday reported a growth in the shortfall from £1.4bn in 2011.

While the figures make grim reading, BBC’s chief financial officer Zarin Patel argued that the interim funding check was not a full funding valuation, which is expected in 2013. She goes on to say that it is only at this point that the pension trustees and the BBC will “agree a new schedule of contributions to address any deficit” if this is deemed necessary.

The BBC has confirmed that that there is “no intention to propose any changes to the scheme benefits” to the joint unions of Bectu, the NUJ and Unison as a result of the review.

Commenting on the deficit, Bill Matthews, chairman of the BBC pension trustee, added: “The trustees are disappointed that economic headwinds have blown the scheme’s funding off course.

“The pensions regulator has recognised that current market conditions have made the situation very difficult for trustees and scheme sponsors.”

Unions went on strike in 2010 in response to the BBC outlining plans to change its final salary scheme after its deficit reached £2bn.

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