Friday, June 22 12:30:20
The total number of active members in occupational pension schemes at April 2012 was 771,878, a decline of some 38,083 members over 2010 levels while as much as 80pc of defined benefit (DB) pensions are in arrears.
That's according to the Pensions Board's Annual Report and Accounts 2011 out today, which also shows that the number of PRSA contracts in force grew by 10,924 during 2011 to 198,038 with total assets of over E3 billion.
"The State pension is the first pillar of pensions' provision. Occupational pensions are an important second pillar. This year's annual report shows that the total number of active members in occupational pension schemes at April 2012 was 771,878, a decline of some 38,083 members over 2010 levels. The number of PRSA contracts in force grew by 10,924 during 2011 to 198,038 with total assets of over E3 billion. While the fall in occupational pension scheme membership can be expected as a consequence of declines in employment and contractions in the economy it is of serious concern for the Board given the importance of personal savings to provide for retirement in addition to the State pension," said Chairperson of The Pensions Board, Jane Williams.
The Board's Chief Executive, Brendan Kennedy, said that the deficits in DB pensions remains a cause of concern.
"As many as 80pc of defined benefit schemes are in deficit and in a number of cases, the deficit is substantial. The Board has published deadlines by which these schemes must submit funding proposals to tackle these deficits. The first of these deadlines falls on 31 December 2012. It is now up to trustees to prepare and submit proposals which will put the finances of their scheme on a long-term stable footing."
Mr Kennedy added: "Defined benefit pension schemes have made long-term pension promises to their members. Our objective must be to see as many defined benefit schemes as possible put on a secure footing and prudently managed so that the members receive the pensions they are expecting."
At the launch Mr Kennedy also commented on the prosecutions undertaken by the Board: "Where the Board uncovers non-compliance with the Pensions Act or receives whistleblow reports to that effect we will have no hesitation in taking appropriate action right up to and including prosecution. In recent years prosecutions have almost entirely been where employers have deducted contributions from employees' wages and not passed them on to the pension scheme, that is, they kept them."
Mr Kennedy went on to say: "It is worrying that the volume of cases notified to us is still very high. Furthermore, we know of a number of cases where offending companies have been put into liquidation and the same directors immediately start a new business and continue their deductions and failure to remit. Our prosecution of these cases takes up a considerable amount of Board resources, which reflects the seriousness of the problem and of the offence. We welcome the fact that the Courts are treating these offences with the seriousness that they merit."