UK-The aggregate funding position of the 7800 defined benefit funds monitored by the Pension Protection Fund worsened to a record £218.7bn (US$302.1bn) deficit last month.
The total surpluses of schemes in surplus fell to £9.4bn last month, from £13.5bn at the end of January. In February 2008, the total surplus of all schemes in surplus stood at £42.6bn.
Consultant Watson Wyatt said this marked the biggest deficit ever recorded by the PPF but the figures would look even worse if they were measured today.
The consultant said since the end of February, UK stock markets have fallen even further and the liabilities covered by the PPF will also have increased further owing to lower gilt yields.
Watson Wyatt head of corporate consulting Rash Bhabra said: "Measuring pension deficits at the end of February could be a bit like pausing a horror film before the end. Things were gruesome enough when this snapshot was taken but have got worse since. In the current environment, a week can be a long time in pension scheme funding."
Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman Steve Webb said 90% of all schemes are now in deficit.
He said: "If the recession continues to deepen, the size of deficits in final salary schemes will keep growing. The PPF risks being overwhelmed by bankrupt schemes and may have to raise the levy on the remaining open schemes. This could prove to be the final nail in its coffin.
"The PPF already has a deficit of £500m. If the recession forces many more schemes to close, ministers will have to explain how the pensions lifeboat will be kept afloat."
In this week's Pensions Buzz, we want to know if The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is taking the right approach by naming and shaming schemes which breach their auto-enrolment (AE) duties.
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