Companies must plug pensions deficits

Companies with large deficits to their pension fund schemes will come under pressure to reduce them rather than improve shareholder value, the head of the government’s Pension Protection Fund has warned.

The fund, which comes into effect on Wednesday 6 April 2005, aims to protect occupational pensions when companies go bust,

Chairman of the fund, Lawrence Churchill, said the combination of the fund and new funding rules would put additional pressure on employers to fill pension scheme deficits.

But that would simply be part of a journey in which “the pensions industry is rapidly catching up with the financial disciplines of the 21st century”, he told the Financial Times.

Employers have already increased contributions to help to meet deficits – in the first nine months of 2004 they put in £4.5bn more than in the same period in 2003, according to official figures.

That has led to warnings from the CBI that pension contributions are damaging company profits and investment, although Churchill pointed out that the money was recycled back into the economy through pension fund investments.

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