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UK pension fund deficits see marginal fall

The combined deficit of the UK's private sector final-salary pension schemes fell by a figure of £2bn in October, according to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

The fall brings the collective deficit to £227bn, from a figure of £229bn in September. Despite the reduction in overall deficit the number of schemes in deficit stills outweighs those in surplus, at 5,236 and 1,196 schemes, respectively. The number of schemes in deficit has also climbed from a figure of 1,184 at the end of September 2012.

The total liabilities (£1290.4bn) of the 6,432 schemes in the PPF 7800 index also surpassed total assets (£1063.1bn). This increases the funding ratio, assets divided by liabilities, from 82.3% to 82.4%.

The PPF also outlined that while the value of scheme assets had risen by 7% in the past year, their liabilities had risen at an even faster rate of 10.7%.
The latest figures follow a fall in scheme deficits in September to £229bn, from a figure of £280bn at the end of August, an improvement that was 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.

Equity markets and gilt yields are the main drivers of funding levels, according to the PPF, and over the year to October 2012, 15-year gilt yields were down by 58 basis points and the FTSE All-Share Index rose by 5.7%, presenting a mixed outlook for scheme deficits.

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