Stat of the month: Pipe dreams shattered - £195bn

Total deficit in UK final-salary pensions

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

This unfeasibly large figure dwarfs both the annual NHS budget (£100bn) and the UK's spending on education (£81bn). It's more than five times the £37bn that the country will invest this year in defence, and makes even Sir Fred Goodwin's retirement package seem small. This corporate problem is a huge one right across the board, even if it's the Royal Mail's £8bn pension shortfall that hogs the headlines. In February, the Pension Protection Fund said 90% of the 7,800 schemes it measured were in the red, with only 812 still in surplus. Many employers have already tried closing final-salary schemes to new recruits. Now, they may have to look at reducing the entitlements of existing members - legally tricky and deeply unpopular though this may be. As if having to work longer wasn't enough ... In 30 years, 25% of the population will be over 65. That's up from 16% today, when Age Concern reckons the under-employment of 'older people' costs the UK economy £29bn a year. So your pipe-and-slippers set may have to stay on the shelf a while longer.

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