It says new mortality tables for self-administered pension schemes, issued by The Actuarial Profession, show that life expectancy for scheme members is less than predicted by the insurance-company-based tables used by many schemes for accounting and funding assumptions.
Failure to allow for this difference would lead to an overstatement of total DB pension liabilities by £30bn, it says.
However, PWC director Richard Giles warns that rather than “blindly adopting the new data as fact, companies and trustees should assess schemes individually to ensure they make appropriate accounting and scheme-funding decisions”.
He says huge sums are at stake and cash-strapped firms should ensure that they use their capital in the most effective way.
Hargreaves Lansdown head of pensions research Tom McPhail says: “Anything that eases pressure on DB schemes has to be seen as good news, so if PWC is right, I am sure that employers will welcome the easing of funding pressures that this should bring.”