UK - Almost half of UK employers say that remuneration packages are affected by the increased costs of funding defined benefit (DB) pension schemes, according to research by Aon Consulting.

In addition, 48% of companies feel that the negative impact of funding DB schemes will continue.

"The funding of defined benefit schemes is still a considerable problem for many UK companies," said Paul McGlone, principal and senior actuary at Aon.

More than one in five companies (22%) also said that the increasing cost of funding their DB schemes is impacting negatively on their share price, with a fifth anticipating that this will continue to be the case in the future.

"Based on the survey results, the message from the employers seems to be that the cost of pension deficits is most likely to be met by changes to employee remuneration, with customers being hit second, and shareholders suffering least from pension debts," McGlone also said.

According to Aon, which surveyed 150 companies operating the UK's largest DB schemes between November last year and February this year, the figures are significant, although they have dropped since similar research was conducted last year.

McGlone added: "With rising equity markets and the rise in bond yields that we have seen over the past year, the strain many companies seem to have been under regarding their pension schemes does appear to have eased slightly."

In 2006 more than a third of companies felt that the increased cost of funding their DB schemes was impacting their share price, rising to 38% when asked if this would be the case in the future.

Moreover, the research found that almost a third of companies (31%) were concerned that the increased cost of funding their DB scheme is already negatively affecting their ability to compete effectively.