The UK pensions deficit has almost been cut in half in the past year, according to new figures.
Pension and benefits specialist Aon Consulting found that the overall shortfall was now down to £26bn, from £48bn on 31 March 2006.
Marcus Hurd, senior consultant and actuary at Aon Consulting, said: “Most companies with March year-ends are expected to report substantial improvements in their pension scheme deficit.
“The UK pension scheme deficit was £26bn at 31 March, a £22bn improvement on the previous year.”
Many companies have closed final-salary pension schemes to new members and taken other steps to reduce their deficits.
However, Hurd warned that the FRS17 accounting standard used to measure accounting deficits was a crude tool that “fails to acknowledge underlying volatility”.
“£10bn swings in the national deficit have occurred from one week to the next,” he added.
“Indeed, companies reporting a few weeks earlier would have reported losses over the year at a time when the national deficit was almost double its current value at £50bn.
“These kind of results show the shortcomings of using a short-term basis to measure long-term obligations under FRS17.”