Support for the UK to leave the EU bloc grew with each age category, peaking at 60 per cent among those aged 65 and over, according to a survey of 12,356 referendum voters by Lord Ashcroft.
Ironically, the same voters are reliant on defined benefit pension to deliver their retirement income.
But UK’s pension deficit rose from £830 billion to £900 billion overnight following the EU referendum.
The vote then pushed the gap further to £935 billion as of July 1, according to Hymans Robertson, an independent pension’s consultancy, making it responsible for £115 billion of debt.
Gilt yields, the assets used to help value the cost of future payments, tumbled in the aftermath of the June 23 referendum, as investors bolted in favour of assets with a reputation for safety, putting more pressure on the pension industry.
Record lows in gilt yields in turn pushed the liabilities of UK pension schemes up to an all-time high £2.3 trillion on July 1.
“The gyrations in UK pension deficits are eye-watering. But one of the biggest factors that will determine whether or not pensions are paid to scheme members in full will be the health of the sponsoring company post Brexit,” Patrick Bloomfield, partner at Hymans Robertson, said.
6 ways Britain leaving the EU will affect you
6 ways Britain leaving the EU will affect you
1/6 More expensive foreign holidays
The first practical effect of a vote to Leave is that the pound will be worth less abroad, meaning foreign holidays will cost us more
2/6 No immediate change in immigration status
The Prime Minister will have to address other immediate concerns. He is likely to reassure nationals of other EU countries living in the UK that their status is unchanged. That is what the Leave campaign has said, so, even after the Brexit negotiations are complete, those who are already in the UK would be allowed to stay
3/6 Higher inflation
A lower pound means that imports would become more expensive. This is likely to mean the return of inflation – a phenomenon with which many of us are unfamiliar because prices have been stable for so long, rising at no more than about 2 per cent a year. The effect may probably not be particularly noticeable in the first few months. At first price rises would be confined to imported goods – food and clothes being the most obvious – but inflation has a tendency to spread and to gain its own momentum
4/6 Interest rates might rise
The trouble with inflation is that the Bank of England has a legal obligation to keep it as close to 2 per cent a year as possible. If a fall in the pound threatens to push prices up faster than this, the Bank will raise interest rates. This acts against inflation in three ways. First, it makes the pound more attractive, because deposits in pounds will earn higher interest. Second, it reduces demand by putting up the cost of borrowing, and especially by taking larger mortgage payments out of the economy. Third, it makes it more expensive for businesses to borrow to expand output
5/6 Did somebody say recession?
Mr Carney, the Treasury and a range of international economists have warned about this. Many Leave voters appear not to have believed them, or to think that they are exaggerating small, long-term effects. But there is no doubt that the Leave vote is a negative shock to the economy. This is because it changes expectations about the economy’s future performance. Even though Britain is not actually be leaving the EU for at least two years, companies and investors will start to move money out of Britain, or to scale back plans for expansion, because they are less confident about what would happen after 2018
6/6 And we wouldn’t even get our money back
All this will be happening while the Prime Minister, whoever he or she is, is negotiating the terms of our future access to the EU single market. In the meantime, our trade with the EU would be unaffected, except that companies elsewhere in the EU may be less interested in buying from us or selling to us, expecting tariff barriers to go up in two years’ time. Whoever the Chancellor is, he or she may feel the need to bring in a new Budget
Ros Altman, the former pensions minister, warned pensions could be under threat from the economic turmoil following UK’s vote to leave the EU.
“Good pensions depend on a good economy. Markets don’t like uncertainty, and we are clearly in unchartered territory,” Altmann said at an event in London.
“I hope we will get the political turmoil settled soon and do what we really need to be doing -which is making good policy for everyone in the country - who hopefully one day will be a pensioner if they aren’t one already,” she added.
As British businesses struggle to plan for an uncertain future in the aftermath of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, a worsening funding gap can reduce their scope to borrow money, curb their ability to invest and act as barrier to mergers and acquisitions.
High profile companies Tata Steel and BHS already showed evidence of the impact of pension deficits on investments and deal making this year.
The British Steel pension scheme, backed by Tata, has an estimated deficit of £700 million which has complicated the quest to find a new owner for Tata’s factories.
BHS’s pensions scheme had a £571 million hole when it collapsed. The risk of taking on the pensions burden is thought to be one of the reasons behind BHS’s failure to find backers or buyers for the business as a whole.Reuse content