Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image BP follows Shell with one-year pension holiday, despite stock market woes

22 January 2008 14:35

Pension holidays could be making a comeback, following reports that BP is to take a break from paying into its scheme.

The oil giant has followed in the steps of rival Shell and is taking a one-year contribution holiday from its £14.7bn pension scheme after a valuation last year revealed it was funded to 135% of its liabilities.

Pension holidays in the 1990s were once seen seen as a key factor that contributed to many pension scheme tumbling into the red with huge deficits.

Paul McGlone, principal and actuary at Aon Consulting, said: “Shell and now BP’s announcement may seem radical – however this is not the case. This is a strategy that a number of smaller companies are already pursuing.

“With schemes being funding more prudently than previously, there is a rational case for considering this strategy. There is, after all, little benefit in continuing to put additional cash into a scheme that is well funded as once cash is in the scheme it can become trapped.”

Meanwhile, Aon said as a result of the sharp stock market fall yesterday, UK pension deficits rose by £15bn, the highest single-day rise since June 2001.

The deficit for the top 200 UK schemes now stands at £42bn, wiping out all the gains made in 2007, Aon said.

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