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NAPF survey reveals surge in final salary scheme closures

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UK - Close to one in five UK final salary schemes have closed to future accrual from existing members in 2010, the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) has revealed.

Additionally, only 21% of defined benefit (DB) schemes in the private sector are still open to new members - a 75% decline since 2008, when the figure still stood at 28%.

Schemes closing to future accrual have increased by 10 percentage points over the last two years and now stand at 17%.

NAPF chief executive Jonanne Segars said the decline of DB schemes seemed to have shifted into a new gear.

The organisation's annual survey also revealed that a third of schemes are planning changes to their benefit structures or considering shifting members from their DB schemes to defined contribution outfits.

"The pressures on final salary pensions are relentless," Segars said. "Many people will feel aggrieved they can no longer build their final salary pension up. The alternative on offer could still provide a good retirement, but only if contributions are set at the right level."

The NAPF also found that funding fell between 2009 and last year, with funding on an FRS17/IAS19, on a Pension Protection Fund and on a buyout basis falling by 8 percentage points in the first two instances and 2 percentage points in the latter.

However, despite the shift away from final salary schemes, benefits in 86% of the 200 respondents in the private sector still paid out pensions based on an employee's earning at the point of retirement.

A further 10% employed a career-average approach, while fewer than 5% had switched to hybrid schemes.

Segars said: "The government has made an important and welcome commitment to 'reinvigorate occupational pensions'. The results from this survey show there is no time to waste in developing solutions that will support schemes, their trustees, sponsors and members."

The survey covered more than 4.5m members in private sector DB schemes.

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