2007 A Good Year For FTSE 100 Pension Scheme Deficits
Pension Capital Strategies (PCS) has reported that 2007 was a good year for pension scheme deficits. The total deficit in the FTSE100 pension schemes at 31 December 2007 is estimated to be £8bn. This is an improvement of £27bn on the position 12 months ago. Although equity markets have shown only modest increases in 2007, increases in interest rates have meant smaller pension liabilities. For the FTSE100, this means that total pension liabilities have reduced by an estimated £19bn to £389bn. Also, FTSE100 companies have helped the situation by paying extra contributions, estimated at £7bn, into their pension schemes to reduce deficits. However, this good news is tinged with caution on two fronts. First, the pensions regulator is encouraging pension scheme trustees to be more cautious on the funding of pension schemes, particularly when it comes to setting mortality assumptions. Also, new guidance on accounting standards (IFRIC14) may mean that companies have to recognise larger pension deficits in their accounts or that they will not be allowed to recognise pension surpluses in their accounts – which in turn could lead to companies deliberately under funding pension schemes to avoid surpluses that they cannot show in their accounts.