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£200bn Crisis Hits Company Pensions:

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The scale of the pensions crisis was laid bare yesterday as figures showed the deficit in company schemes had soared above £200billion.

A staggering 88 per cent of the country's 7,400 defined-benefit pension schemes face a shortfall amid pressure from falling stocks and people living longer.

In June 2007, pension funds were registering a surplus of more than £100billion. A year later this had turned into a deficit of £13billion.

But yesterday's figures from industry safety net the Pension Protection Fund showed the shortfall between assets and liabilities in the 7,400 plans rocketed to £200.1billion at the end of June.

Pensions regulator chairman David Norgrove yesterday warned of 'severe pressures' on employers, pension fund trustees and members.

The deficit has prompted many firms to close plans that offer guaranteed incomes based on an employee's final salary.

Banking group Barclays recently announced it was shutting its scheme and transferring staff members to a less generous plan.

Meanwhile, BP said it will close its final salary plan to new members next year.

And supermarket group Morrisons is following suit, turning to a scheme linked to the average salary of an employee over a career for 10,000 members.

Experts say it is inevitable further schemes will close. Yet civil servants are continuing to enjoy generous final salary schemes that are building up huge taxpayer liabilities for the future.

The potential cost of public sector pensions could equate to £1trillion or more, according to some estimates.

Leading pensions expert Ros Altman said: 'We are on the way to being a nation of pensioner poverty.

'These defined-benefit pension deficits are frighteningly large. Companies are really struggling with the cost. It is inevitable that more and more schemes will close because firms can't afford the cost and uncertainty involved.

Another story about the collapse of the pension system.

When will the people wake up?

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not a worry for some failures

Former GM boss gets $8.6m pension

Rick Wagoner

Mr Wagoner would have got a larger pension if he had left last year

Former General Motors (GM) boss Rick Wagoner will officially retire in August with a pension worth $8.6m (£5.3m) over the first five years.

Mr Wagoner is standing down after he was ousted from the jobs of chairman and chief executive in March as part of the government rescue of GM.

If he had retired last year, he would have been entitled to a retirement package worth $23m.

Last week, GM emerged from bankruptcy protection as a smaller company.

Mr Wagoner had led GM since 2000.

In recent years he had presided over increasing losses at the firm, after it was hit by falling sales in its key home market.

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