IRELAND - Pension scheme funding proposals are being rejected by Ireland's Pension Board ahead of the November deadline, a consultant at Hewitt Associates has said.

Speaking of the funding proposals that defined benefit schemes must submit to the regulator, Philip Shier said that the first drafts were likely being rejected because of the risk exposure schemes were proposing.

"I know that they have a fairly high rejection rate, at least on first submission," Shier said, adding, "I think, the Board has concerns either about the extent of the investment risk being taken."

He explained that further concerns were about projected equity investments going forward.

The Pensions Board has warned that any schemes failing to submit proposals by the 30 November deadline risk seeing pension benefits reduced.

Hewitt recently warned that declining equity returns, as well as weak bond markets would pose a problem for pension schemes.

Fiona Daly, managing director of Rubicon Investment Consulting, added: "What's happened in the last couple of years, with bond markets falling and equities falling, the proportion of schemes that were in deficit and the scale of the deficit has been going up."

The increasing number of schemes in deficit in has already resulted in changes that allowed pension schemes to submit 10 year funding proposals, but in light of even higher deficits, the Pensions Board was now allowing recovery plans that extended beyond a decade for companies that are seen to have a viable future.