UK - Companies poured record amounts of money into their UK occupational pension schemes in the first quarter of this year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Net contributions to self-administered pension funds for the first quarter totalled £15.8bn (€19.7bn) - the highest level seen since the data were first collected in 1992.

The new peak was largely because of special employer contributions being reported, with a number of funds making one-off payments to reduce funding deficits, the ONS said.

Net contributions were up from £11.5bn in the previous quarter, and from £12.4bn in the same quarter last year.

Total contributions for the first and fourth quarters of each year tended to be higher than in other quarters because this was when companies increased the level of their special contributions, the ONS said.

Self-administered pension schemes are defined by the ONS as occupational pension schemes with units invested in one or more managed schemes or unit trusts.

The figures released revealed quarterly net investment from financial transactions made by insurance companies, self-administered pension funds, investment trusts, unit trusts and property unit trusts.

Self-administered pension schemes were estimated to have shown net investment of £20bn in the first quarter, which the ONS said was the highest level recorded since quarterly records began in 1983.

This is £2bn more than the estimate for the same quarter last year before, and £18bn more than the fourth quarter 2011.

The ONS said one factor behind the high levels of net investment in the quarter might have been the significant level of employer contributions.