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UK roundup: PPF 7800 index, Barclays DC consultancy

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The funding level of defined benefit (DB) pension plans in the UK has risen to nearly 94%, after the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) updated the data used to calculate deficits across the system.

According to the PPF 7800 index for the end of October, the aggregate deficit fell to nearly £75bn (€90bn), down £9.4bn over readjusted figures for September.

The index’s methodology was reassessed following the publication of the 2013 Purple Book earlier this month, resulting in the funding ratio for September being revised upwards by 2.2 percentage points to 92.9%, after the aggregate deficit fell by nearly £30bn.

For the end of October, the funding level across the 6,150 pension funds – down by 166 on the previous dataset – reported a funding level of 93.8%, a significant improvement over the 83% reported for the same period last year.

The PPF added that assets within the index now amounted to £1.1trn.

“Over the month, scheme assets rose by 2.3%, and, over the year, there was an increase of 8.3%,” it said.

It added that, while liabilities increased compared with the end of September, they fell by 4% year on year.

In other news, Barclays has launched a defined contribution (DC) investment consultancy to complement a corporate pensions platform launched earlier this year.

The service, provided by Barclays Corporate & Employer Solutions (BCES), will help trustees “create an investment solution that takes account of different and changing member needs”, according to a statement.

The approach will enable investment in a number of pre-selected default strategies, while BCES will also profile the company’s workforce to assess the investment risk suitable for each workforce.

Katharine Photiou, head of workplace savings at BCES, said: “Traditional retirement planning and DC investment strategies do not do enough to take account of an individual’s needs, or adapt to changing market conditions.”

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