October 27, 2013
By Andrew Cave
Britains’s embattled long-term savings industry will get a rare boost on Tuesday when figures from the Pension Protection Fund show that the rescue scheme for workers at collapsed companies has increased its assets.
The fund was set up by the Government as an arm’s-length entity in 2005 after several high-profile cases of pension fund members being left with nothing when their companies failed.
It provides benefits capped at about £32,000 a year, funded by all UK companies with defined benefit pension schemes paying risk-based levies.
The PPF also takes over whatever assets are left when a pension fund goes bankrupt. MG Rover’s pension fund was the first fund taken over in this way. [EXPAND Read more]
Three years ago, the fund launched a long-term funding strategy, declaring it wanted to be self-sufficient by 2030.
The fund’s annual results are expected to show that assets under management have risen from £11bn to £15bn, while its probability of being able to reach its target has risen from 84pc a year ago to between 86pc-88pc.
The PPF, founded with 50 staff and zero assets, has since paid out more than £1bn in compensation to members and is now protecting 6,300 pension schemes.
It employs 270 people and plans to recruit another 100 next year, as it takes in-house management services that are currently outsourced to Capita.
In the past year, the fund has received about £1bn of pension claims that it will have to pay over the next 20 to 30 years.
Chairman Lady Barbara Judge told The Daily Telegraph: “The real problem today for pension fund deficits is low interest rates and low yields on bonds, because it’s very hard to match long-term liabilities against long-term assets when the assets are not yielding very much.
“Notwithstanding quantitative easing, we are improving our position, vis-à-vis our target.”
Lady Judge, an American who was the youngest commissioner of the Securities & Exchange Commission, added: “The model is working really well. It didn’t always. In the beginning, people said that it was going to fail. It was the lifeboat that would sink.
“But, over the past few years, this lifeboat has sailed smoothly, even though it has been through some very choppy waters. We’re doing well in a period when financial institutions like ours are not doing well in very uncertain times.” [/EXPAND]