Although it may still be premature to announce the death of defined benefit pension schemes, their days are numbered. As reported this morning in the FT, another pensions consultancy, Aon Pensions Consultants, has warned that
Final salary pension schemes face their worst ever deficits if plans go ahead for new accounting standards and more generous assumptions about life expectancy.
To the pensions industry this is old news (and the defined benefit scheme has in truth been an inordinately long time in dying: I was advising on changing schemes more than 15 years ago), but there is another and equally important aspect. Most public sector schemes are salary and service related, and the cost of these schemes is already far higher than many people realise. Changing the assumptions for life expectancy will only make things worse. The government recognised that action needed to be taken in relation to the state pension, and whether or not Personal Accounts are the right anwer (I am not convinced), the nettle was grasped. Unfortunately this has not been the case with public sector pensions. It will have to be, because the burgeoning costs of these pensions is a millstone around the neck of the public purse: and the quid pro quo (of receiving below private sector pay but enjoying a full pension promise) is not as persuasive an argument as hitherto. But don’t hold your breath for this government to do anything about it.