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OPRA probes UK pension scheme deficits

UK – The Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority has reached the second stage of its pilot project to more fully understand why UK pension schemes are in deficit.

In August, OPRA began a pilot project by questioning a sample of 50 UK schemes with deficits according to the minimum funding requirement. OPRA spokeswoman Serena Mitchell said that the funds agreed to work closely with the regulator and provide information on all areas of the fund.

Mitchell said that now all the information has been gathered, OPRA will begin analysing the data to see if a pattern emerges. “We want to get a better understanding of why schemes have such deficits. For example, is it the investment side? Are trustees getting the right advice? Are trustees taking all the steps they need to?,” she said.

OPRA is keen to ensure the pensions schemes that the project is not a threatening investigation.

“The project should be regarded as positive,” added Mitchell. Once OPRA has better understood the schemes’ situation, it will work closely with the trustees to help them tackle the deficit, and find other ways of funding the scheme other than through a minimum funding requirement extension. “We will work closely with the trustees and provide them with information and advice.”

It is still undecided as to whether the results will be published in OPRA’s quarterly bulletin.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Policy Studies think tank has proposed raising the individual basic state pension to 120 pounds per week from the current 77.45 pounds.

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