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Last Updated: Monday, 10 March 2008, 16:09 GMT
Company pension deficits deepen
Protesting pensioners
Deficits have pushed some companies to close their schemes
The collective deficit of the UK's company pension schemes hit its highest level last month since June 2003.

According to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) the deficit rose in February from 81 billion to 98 billion.

Each month the PPF analyses the financial position of nearly 7,800 final salary pension schemes, mainly in the private sector.

It blamed the change on a fall in the return on government bonds, which made pensions more expensive to finance.

Volatile

February was the fourth month in on a row that the collective deficit of the schemes has become worse.

This time last year they had a combined surplus of just over 3 billion.

6,702 schemes are currently in deficit, with just 1,046, or 14%, still showing a surplus.

However the PPF stressed that monthly changes in pension scheme finances are extremely volatile, depending on the rise and fall in the price of shares and bonds on the international financial markets.





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