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Pensions: equity rises cancelled out by rising FRS17 liabilities

Pensions: equity rises cancelled out by rising FRS17 liabilities

For pension schemes, the recovery in equities over the past year has been largely cancelled out by increases in liabilities, according to Watson Wyatt. Despite positive news from the stock market in recent months, the overall FRS17 deficit for UK pension funds is little changed from a year ago.

Watson Wyatt, which advises over half of the UK 's 100 largest corporate pension schemes, says the FRS17 pension deficit for FTSE100 companies is broadly unchanged from 12 months ago and totals about £60 billion. The deficit for all UK pension schemes could be as much as double this figure.

"While a rising stock market has been positive, the liabilities of pension schemes have increased because of higher inflation expectations and lower corporate bond yields," says Robert Hails, a partner at Watson Wyatt. "The stock market recovery was clearly welcome but rising liabilities mean it has done little to eat into these accounting deficits."

Higher inflation expectations as implied by the gilt market - rising from 2.25 per cent to 2.75 per cent - raise liabilities as they increase the expected pay-outs from pension schemes.