UK - Special pension scheme contributions to defined benefit schemes have risen for the third consecutive year, as companies continue to address pension risk, according to Mercer.
It said general pressure from trustees, general risk mitigation, the PPF Levy, strengthened mortality assumptions, tax and the Pensions Regulator triggers were among the reasons for the added contributions.
Also, the number of respondents undertaking specific financings in connection with special contributions fell from 20% to around 11% - the same level as 2006.
Mercer financial strategy group worldwide partner Dave Robertson said: "This suggests that some sponsors believe discretionary risk mitigation and improved funding levels add value to the firm."
The report also highlighted that 37% of schemes had strengthened their mortality assumptions but noted that even these revised levels fell short of the benchmark which the Pensions Regulator recently focused on.
In addition, while 53% of respondents felt current market conditions had upped the sponsor's credit default risk, there were over a third who perceived no change.
Robertson explained this might be because, for these schemes, the deficit was small in absolute terms, or in relation to the size of the sponsor.
He said: "Equally, it may simply be that the 'stickiness' of credit ratings has led many trustees to believe that there has been no material adverse change in sponsor creditworthiness, despite the evidence presented by bond spreads, credit default swap prices and other market indicators.
"We would expect all trustee groups to at least consider this, since they are expected to focus on employer covenant throughout the valuation cycle".
Meanwhile, latest figures from the Pension Protection Fund revealed the aggregate funding position of 7800 UK defined benefit (DB) schemes worsened to a £36.7bn ($64.7bn) deficit in August.
The PPF said its 7800 index stood at a £24.1bn deficit at the end of July, however that deficit grew to £36.7bn at the end of last month.
It said that scheme funding was worse than it was last year, when it had a surplus of £59.1bn.
Also, the total deficit of schemes in deficit in August this year is estimated to have worsened to £91.6bn from £80.1bn at the end of July 2008.
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