The combined deficit of the 6,432 defined benefit pension schemes that are covered by the Pension Protection Fund increased by £16bn last month, figures published today have revealed.
The lifeboat fund's latest PPF 7800 index data shows that the schemes' aggregate deficit rose from £267bn at the end of June to £83bn at the end of July. Just a year earlier, at the end of July 2011, the combined deficit of the index's members was £78bn.
As deficits increased, the funding ratio of schemes - their assets as a percentage of their liabilities - decreased, down from 79.6% at the end of June to 78.9% at the end of July.
Over the month the value of schemes' assets increased by 1.6% to £1,057.5bn, an increase the PPF attributed to improving equity markets and rising gilt prices. However, liabilities increased by 2.5% over the same period as gilt yields fell and gilt prices increased.
And, the PPF also noted that over the year to July 2012, 15 year gilt yields had fallen by 152 basis points. These yields fell by 25 basis points in July alone.
In total, 5,418, or 84.2%, of the 6,432 schemes in the PPF universe ended last month in deficit, compared to 5,388 at the end of June 2012 and 4,571 at the end of July 2011.
At the same time, the number of schemes in surplus fell from 1,044 at the end of June to 1,014 at the end of July - equal to 15.8% of all schemes. Just a year earlier, at the end of July 2011, there were 1,861 schemes in surplus.