Local government pension scheme (LGPS) deficits are estimated to have doubled since 2010 to over £80bn, according to KPMG analysis.
As a result, employers participating in the LGPS are likely to see a significant hike in their contributions from 1 April 2014.
In the run up to schemes' triennial valuations, KPMG UK head of public sector pensions Steve Simkins warned the combination of shortfalls in funding levels and LGPS 2014 reforms will make the next 12 months "the busiest on record".
Simkins said: "Our analysis indicates that the deficit has more than doubled since 2010, breaching £80bn, leaving LGPS management teams and their actuaries scratching their heads as to how to avoid significant contribution increases.
"In 2010 they were given a get out of jail card with the change in pension increases from RPI to CPI, but the latest market developments mean that it's now back to the drawing board. There is no question that employer contributions will increase; the question is by how much?"
As LGPS prepares to move to a career average structure as part of the LGPS 2014 reforms, employers must focus on engaging with staff and adjusting budgets to meet cost increases, Simkins said.
He added: "Setting higher employer contribution rates and implementing career average pensions is only part of the story.
"New governance requirements, reducing pension tax allowances and auto-enrolment are combining to put huge pressures on LGPS management teams at a time when local government resources are under strain. The simple fact is this: to meet the 1 April 2014 deadline, it is crucial to start preparing now."
This week, Mercer principal Joanne Holden warned the timing of England's 2 May county council elections could impact this year's actuarial valuations if there is a major change in elected officials (PP Online, 25 April).
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