PwC report suggests DB pension provision collapse is increasing

The exodus from defined benefits pension provision is accelerating according to a new report carried out by PwC Human Resource Services.

The report, now in its 11th year, finds that 16 per cent of employers say they have closed existing defined benefits schemes to future accrual for existing employees and a further 11 per cent are expecting to in future.

A further 35 per cent of companies are looking to buyout some or all their pension liabilities, 19 per cent in the next 5 years. This compared to 27 per cent and 11 per cent respectively a year ago.

The desire to exit is greater for larger organisations, defined as companies with more than 5,000 employees, with 43 per cent looking to buyout compared to 27 per cent of smaller employers.

Employers are increasingly prepared to use liability reduction programmes with 31 per cent considering offering enhanced transfer values to deferred pensioners and 12 per cent considering offering current pensioners incentives to give up future pension increases.

The report also finds that just 63 per cent of employers are very confident they understand the Pension Regulator’s thinking and guidance on scheme funding, while 64 per cent of employers say they have little or no influence over the investment strategy followed by their trustees and 85 per cent are concerned about the volatility of their funding position.

PwC also identified rapidly growing interest in using group Sipps to enable tax-effective roll over of company shares into a pension arrangement, with 43 per cent of large employers implementing a Sipp compared to 23 per cent six months ago. The survey polled 86 employers, including 28 FTSE100 companies.

It found 39 per cent of employers have already started planning for the arrival of personal accounts in 2012, with 43 per cent saying they will need to change eligibility or auto-enrolment requirements of their current schemes.

“The desire by corporates of all sizes to reduce or rid their balance sheet of defined benefit liabilities continues to accelerate, driven by concerns over their ability to control the associated costs and risks,” says Marc Hommel, pensions leader at PwC Human Resource Services