Eighty-one per cent of defined-benefit schemes are closed to new entrants compared with 68 per cent two years ago, according to a survey by the Association of Consulting Actuaries.
The research involved 300 employers with scheme assets exceeding £127bn and over 2.1 million members.
It found that over 80 per cent of schemes were in deficit at their last funding valuation but that two-thirds of employers have made special contributions to close the funding gap and responded to The Pension Regulator’s call for scheme sponsors to generally reduce deficit recovery periods.
Over the last five years, average employer contributions have doubled to 23 per cent of earnings and member contributions have risen to 6 per cent.
Seventy per cent of schemes expect to remove their deficit within 10 years and the ACA says this figure may improve if the upward trend in long-term real interest rates and investment markets persists.
Chairman Ian Farr says: “The big downside of the scheme closures that have taken place as private sector employers have derisked for the future is that we are facing the prospect of growing under-pensioning in respect of millions, particularly the young and middle-aged.
“The Government must act quickly to encourage pension provision that is better than a minimum level through personal accounts, where we feel there is some over-optimism in terms of the scale and the reliability of the pensions that this scheme will deliver.
“For that reason, we have called for legislative changes to encourage more risk-sharing schemes. Failure by Government to act decisively and radically in terms of private pension reforms will breed growing resentment between private and public-sector employees, where pensions are now often much better.”