UK - Three quarters of UK pension schemes are more concerned about the regulatory burden than improving longevity and closing their deficits, research suggests.

A poll by the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) of its members revealed 63% of schemes view regulation among their top three concerns, however, when concerns about EU legislation and restrictions on reforming benefits were included, this rose to 75%.

Improving longevity and scheme deficits ranked second and third among schemes' concerns, with 59% and 48% respectively.

Commenting on the findings, Tony Barnard, technical consultant at Gissings, told IPE there was a risk companies would abandon pension provision if the situation was not resolved.

"The larger employers, on the whole, can probably cope with the legislative burden, but what is of more concern is that the small to medium-sized companies could simply walk away from pension provision altogether," he said.

"They haven't got the time and resources required and I fear you'll see schemes closing and more people ending up in personal accounts - the exact opposite of what the government is trying to achieve."

Joanne Segars, chief executive of the NAPF, said Peter Hain, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, would find deregulation "at the top of his in-tray" when he takes over the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

"The clear message from pension schemes is that they want to see a concerted effort to tighten the regulatory burden," she said.

"The DWP has sounded serious about cutting through red tape so employers find it easier to provide good occupational pensions at a reasonable cost. By taking forward the deregulatory agenda, Peter Hain has an early opportunity to demonstrate that he will be good news for workplace pensions."

The DWP is in the midst of its Deregulatory Review of Private Pensions, which was out for consultation until early April.

The industry is awaiting the results of the review, which touted risk-sharing schemes and concepts which would give employers more flexibility over managing their liabilities going forward.

The independent reviewers - Ed Sweeney, joint deputy general secretary of Amicus, and Chris Lewin, former head of UK pensions at Unilever - will report their findings and recommendations to ministers in the spring.