Page last updated at 10:35 GMT, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 11:35 UK

Pension schemes in surplus for first time since 2008

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Despite the collective surplus, most schemes are still in deficit

The UK's private sector final-salary pension schemes have collectively moved back into surplus for the first time since June 2008.

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) said the 7,400 pension schemes had a total surplus last month of £0.3bn, compared with a deficit in February of £15bn.

A year ago the deficit was much higher, standing at £242bn.

However, despite the improvement overall, 68.5% of schemes are still in deficit with only 31.5% in surplus.

Changing methods

The PPF said rising share prices meant the funds' assets had risen by more than the cost of paying for pensions.

"Total scheme assets amounted to £915.4bn in March 2010, representing an increase of 3.9% over the month and an increase of 22% over the year to March 2010," the PPF said.

"Meanwhile, scheme liabilities decreased by 7.6% over the year to March 2010, to £915bn [but] increased 2.1% over the month from £895.9bn in February 2010."

As well as rising share prices, the PPF said the picture had also improved because last October it changed the way it calculated the likely cost of paying for pensions in the future.

This had had the effect of reducing the calculation of the schemes' liabilities - the value of assets they need to meet their pension promises - by about 8%, equivalent to £70bn.

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