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‘Conspiracy of silence’ over soaring DB deficit

The Pension Protection Fund says the deficit in defined-benefit pension schemes rose from £205bn in February to £242bn in March.

The PPF index calculates the total assets less liabilities of around 7,400 DB funds. In March, the total surpluses of schemes in surplus fell to £11bn from £13bn in February and from £59bn in March 2008.

Hargreaves Lansdown head of pension research Tom McPhail says there is a conspiracy of silence on the issue. He says: “There are grounds for disquiet for employers, members, trustees, bondholders and shareholders. In a lot of cases, everyone would prefer not to have to confront this issue. It is a lot more palatable if you build in a 20-year recovery period assumption. Longer recovery period assumptions are inevitable, although this will be wishful thinking in some cases. It will be a summer of bad news on pension liabilities.”

Punter Southall principal David Cule says: “The Government may give direct or indirect support to pension schemes or the PPF to help keep schemes providing benefits.”

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