Pensions under pressure as shortfall grows

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The Independent Online

Workplace pensions could come under renewed scrutiny as British companies prepare to release their company accounts.

Aon Consulting, an employee benefits and risk management firm, estimates that the total pension deficit for UK companies has risen by £57bn during the past year. This is bound to increase the pressure on senior managers to close down lucrative employee final-salary schemes, according to Aon. "Pension deficits are once again dominating the boardroom," said Marcus Hurd, Aon's head of corporate solutions. "This year's company accounts will make sorry reading for companies with final-salary pension schemes. These numbers will only increase the number of firms looking at restructuring their pension arrangements, including those that have put off the decision during the economic downturn."

Surprisingly, the growing black hole in UK pensions comes against a backdrop of a buoyant stock market. However, pension schemes have a lot of their cash invested in government bonds which are currently paying ultra-low rates of interest.

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