Largest charities’ pensions deficits reach £1.5bn

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The combined pension deficits of the largest 50 charities in the UK has reached £1.5bn, according to new research.

Research by Charity Finance magazine and accountancy firm BDO found that 41 of the largest 50 charities in the UK have defined benefit (DB) scheme commitments, which together are worth £1.5bn.

This is greater than £1.2bn in June 2016, £901m in 2014 and £779m in 2012, although the sample is not directly comparable as the top charities have changed in that time.

However, arguably a truer estimate of the liability the largest charities face is their buyout deficit, which is based on the tradeable market value or insurance company buyout price of their DB schemes.

This figure has actually dropped to £5.1bn, from £6.5bn in 2016, and improved for 30 of the 36 charities listed in both years.

None of the largest 50 charities have a DB scheme open to new members and, since 2016, seven have closed their schemes to future accrual.

Both closure to new members and future accrual is undertaken to manage pension costs. Some charities will have closed to new members first, and then future accrual later, if they needed to save yet further costs. Some charities will have gone straight to closing to future accrual.

David Davison, a director of Spence & Partners, said: “There is likely to be continuing pressure to close to new entrants and all future accrual."

Subscribers to Charity Finance can read the full article online here.

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