UK - Northumbrian Water has announced a £36m (€41m) reduction in its pension deficit after applying the consumer price index (CPI) as a measure in its latest half-yearly results.

The water supplier said CPI was applied to deferred pensions, as well as any payments where scheme rules allowed for the application of pension increase orders.

The shift to CPI resulted in a £53m drop in scheme liabilities, which offset a £26m fall in overall scheme value and led to an overall reduction of £36m in the actuarial valuation of the deficit.

However, the company's annual report still indicates that some payments were indexed using the retail price index.

The move by Northumbrian comes after telecoms company BT saw its deficit more than halved by the switch, reducing the scheme's funding shortfall by £2.9bn.

Meanhwile, Capita Hartshead was again named the scheme administrator for the two pension funds maintained by Thames Water.

The six-year contract starts in January next year and will see the consultancy provide administration, as well as scheme accounting services, for the Thames Water Pension Scheme (TWPS) and the Thames Water Mirror Image Pension Scheme (TWMIPS).

The two funds have a combined deficit of almost £150m, according to the company's latest annual report from the end of March, with TWMIPS in surplus by more than £17m, while both have assets of £1.3bn.

The company agreed a recovery plan in March that would see it increase employer contributions and backdating them to March 2008.

Finally, investment consultancy tenders are down in the first six months of the year, according to figures by IC Select.

The company gathered data from more than 1,000 defined benefit schemes and found that only 6.9% of schemes retendered their investment consultancy service, down from 8.3% last year and 7.6% in 2008.

Roger Brown, managing director of IC Select, said an increasing number of schemes were now following guidance published in the Morris Review five years ago that urged the re-evaluation of investment consultants every six years, but said some were still reluctant to implement the changes.

Brown said: "This may be an effect of the turmoil in financial markets in recent years as schemes have had more pressing issues on their time. 

"If so, we can expect to see a significant increase in the number of mandates tendered in the next few years"