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Pension deficits down say PPF

The combined deficit of the UK's private sector final-salary pension schemes fell to £229bn last month, according to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

The deficit of the 6,432 schemes is down from £280bn at the end of August, an improvement that has been attributed in part to a slight upturn in the performance of shares.

However, the collective deficit figure is still higher than the £205bn recorded a year earlier, as a result of the rise in the estimated costs of providing pensions.

In addition, just 1,184 schemes were in surplus at the end of September, while more than four times this figure (5,248) were in deficit.

The news comes in the wake of the findings from Mercer’s Pensions Risk Survey consultancy report, which showed a downward trend in the deficit figure for defined benefit (DB) pension schemes of FTSE350 companies.

At the end of September DB scheme deficits made a significant drop to £42bn, from a figure of £63 billion at the end of August. As well as a month on month drop, this figure was lower than the £61bn recorded at the end of December 2011.

Further figures from the PPF revealed that the value of total pension scheme liabilities (£1294.7bn) continued to outweigh total assets (£1065.6bn). The funding ratio, the total assets as a percentage of total liabilities, also increased from 79.1% to 82.3%.

The Pensions Regulator recently outlined that companies can agree a deficit plan that lasts longer than ten years without triggering a regulator probe.

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