The combined deficit of the UKs defined benefit pension schemes fell by nearly £20bn last month, according to figures published today by the Pension Protection Fund.
The fund's monthly update of its 7800 index, which sets out the aggregate deficit in the 6,316 schemes eligible for protection from the fund, said the aggregate scheme deficit stood at £115.7bn at the end of July. This was down from £134.3bn at the end of June.
Across the funds, the funding ratio to liabilities also increased over the month, up by more than 1 percentage point from 89.1% to 90.7%. Overall assets totalled £1.13 trillion, with liabilities standing at £1.25 trillion.
According to the PPF, there were 4,568 schemes in deficit at the end of July, down by 124 compared to the month before. In total, 746 fewer schemes are in deficit compared to a year ago, with 1,748 schemes were in surplus at the end of July.
Rising equity markets and gilt yields were the main drivers of improved funding levels, the PPF 7800 Index report stated.
'The value of scheme assets is affected by the change in prices of all the major asset classes, not just equity markets. However, due to their weight in asset allocation and volatility, equities are usually the biggest driver behind changes in scheme assets.
'Over the month, assets rose by 2.7%, mainly because of rising equity markets. Liabilities increased by 0.9% over the same period, reflecting lower nominal gilt yields.'