UK - The aggregate funding position of around 7,400 defined benefit (DB) pension schemes improved by more than £50bn (€56bn) in April, to a deficit of £188.5bn by the end of the month.

Latest figures from the Pension Protection Fund's (PPF) 7800 Index showed although scheme funding is worse than in April 2008 - when there was a surplus of £27.1bn - the position improved from an aggregate deficit of £242bn in March to £188.5bn a month later.

The PPF revealed the value of pension fund assets increased by 4% in April on the back of rising UK and global equities - the FTSE All Share Index rose 9.5% over the month - while higher gilt yields led to a 3.2 fall in liabilities.

The monthly update also revealed the number of schemes in deficit fell from 6,637 to 6,429, equivalent to 87% of the sample instead of 90% in March, and the total deficit of schemes in deficit fell from £253.1bn to £204.8bn.

This is still significantly worse than at the same time last year when the aggregate deficit of schemes in deficit was just £55.9bn. However, the number of schemes in surplus rose from 774 to 953, or 13%, over the last month and the total surplus of schemes in surplus increased from £11.1bn to £16.4bn.
Figures indicated the total value of scheme assets from the sample of 7,382 schemes was £772.3bn, representing an increase of 3.2% over the month and 3.7% in the three months to the end of April, albeit earlier poor performance meant assets are down 9.8% over the year.

Scheme liabilities also increased 15.8% between April 2008 and April 2009 to reach £960.7bn, however the Index showed liabilities did improve by 3% last month from £990.2bn at the end of March. (See earlier IPE article: DB deficit hits £242bn despite changes to data)

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