SCOTLAND - The Church of Scotland is facing a pensions scheme deficit of more than £50m.
The church’s stewardship and finance board believes the shortfall is the “most important” financial issue facing the Scottish clergy in the “next few years”.
The board’s latest financial report says that in a worst-case scenario the pension fund could require “ongoing additional contributions of several million pounds per annum”.
The church runs three DB schemes for ministers and overseas missionaries, national mission and staff.
The report revealed that the total FRS17 deficit of the three schemes is £50.9m. The largest deficit – £39m – relates to the main fund, for ministers and overseas missionaries. The £149m scheme has value of £149m has 1199 active, 243 deferred and 1578 pensioner members.
The deficits for the schemes for the national mission and staff pension schemes are £1.5m and £11, respectively.
The church blamed the falls in value of the schemes’ assets on falls in equity markets, but stressed that the FRS17 calculations were only “snapshots” of the funds’ positions.
It said: “A number of joint meetings have been held recently, involving representatives of all employing agencies, the pension trustees and the schemes’ actuary [Hymans Robertson].”
It added that “major decisions” will be made as to the future of both employer and member contribution rates and the benefit levels for the major schemes.
The Church of England was forced to pay additional pension contributions worth £8.1m in 2002 for its £135m Church of England Funded Pensions Scheme for staff employer after 1998.
The CoE’s total expenditure on pensions for 2002 was £105.8m, with additional payments expected to continue until 2004 to help smooth the impact of the contribution rate for funded pension scheme started in 2001.
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