Pensions taskforce to call for £1.5 trillion superfund to plug black holes in UK's retirement funds

 
Hayley Kirton
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By pooling all the funds, the report will argue pensions could be much more efficient (Source: Getty)

A group of pensions experts will call on the government in the next few days to set up a £1.5 trillion superfund to fix the UK's pensions crisis.

According to Sky News, which first reported the story, the committee set up by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) is expected to urge ministers to consolidate all of the country's defined benefit pension schemes.

The latest figures from the Pension Protection Fund, often nicknamed the pensions lifeboat, found the UK's 5,700-plus defined benefit schemes were running an aggregate deficit of £196.5bn at the end of January. However, the schemes also currently hold assets of around £1.5 trillion.

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A report by the PLSA group is expected to reveal the odds of those in weaker schemes receiving their full benefits are about as good as a coin toss.

It will argue bringing all the schemes together will also improve efficiency, with combining all the administrative functions of the schemes creating savings of £600m a year, pooling all the assets but keeping back office units separate generating savings of £250m a year and bringing together assets, administrative functions and governance ‎responsibilities of all the schemes saving as much as £1.2bn a year.

The committee is chaired by Ashok Gupta, a former non-executive director of the Pensions Regulator who has previously led a Bank of England‎ inquiry into pension fund investments.

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It is understood the plans will be formally announced at a PLSA conference due to take place in Edinburgh later this week.

Defined benefit pension pots have been a hot topic recently. It was announced last week that businessman Sir Philip Green had agreed to stump up £363m to plug the hole in the BHS pension schemes.

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When the retailer, which was owned by Green until he sold it for £1 in 2015, went into administration last year, its pensions deficit was worth £571m if it were to be brought out by an insurer.

The Department for Work and Pensions released a green paper last month on the state of the defined benefit landscape, in which it mulled giving the Pensions Regulator more powers to step in when schemes were struggling.

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