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Chapter 5: Benefits in Defined Benefit Schemes - OPSS Annual Report, 2011 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 19 September 2012 Download PDF

Abstract

'Chapter 5: Benefits in defined benefit schemes' of the Occupational Pension Schemes Survey (OPSS) annual report 2011 gives information on the benefits provided to those in defined benefit occupational pension schemes.

Introduction

Pension schemes are designed to offer benefits, normally in the form of an income for life in old age (a pension). In addition to a pension on retirement, benefits to members of occupational pension schemes may include a lump sum on retirement and financial support if the member dies before retirement age, or has to leave work through ill health. The combination of such features is the focus of this chapter for Defined benefit schemes and Chapter 6 for Defined contribution schemes.

This chapter considers the benefits available to members of defined benefit schemes, that is, schemes where the level of pension on retirement is determined by scheme rules and generally related to the earnings and length of service of the member (see Defined benefit and defined contribution schemes in Chapter 1). The analysis includes information from schemes offering hybrid benefits, where benefits are the better of defined benefits and benefits based on the accumulation of contributions paid by, or on behalf of, the member (see Chapter 1). The results presented in this chapter relate to schemes with 12 or more members only.

Benefits at normal pension age

Most defined benefit schemes base members’ pensions at retirement on a fraction of their final pensionable earnings, proportional to the length of each individual’s membership of the scheme. This fraction is a multiple of an ‘accrual rate’ for each year of service. For example, a final salary scheme might provide a pension based on an annual accrual rate of 1/80th: a person retiring after 40 years’ service would receive half of their final salary as a pension (40 times 1/80th or 40/80ths). In the private sector, it is a legal requirement that the accrual rate is constant over the entire period of service in a given part of the scheme.

Historically, the survey asked schemes for only one accrual rate which represented the rate for the majority of members. In 2010, the questionnaire was redeveloped to ensure that if there were different rates for different groups of members, these were recorded. The scheme was asked to give the different rates and the corresponding proportion of active members to whom that rate applied.

Table 5.1 shows the accrual rates of active members of public and private sector defined benefit schemes in 2011. In the private sector, the accrual rate applying to the largest number of active members was 60ths (38 per cent of active members, excluding non-response).

In the public sector, the accrual rate applying to the largest number of members was 80ths plus an additional lump sum on retirement equivalent to 3/80ths (48 per cent of active members). However, there were important differences between funded and unfunded schemes (see Funding status in Chapter 1). In unfunded public sector schemes, 70 per cent of active members accrued benefits at 80ths plus a 3/80ths lump sum and a further 18 per cent accrued benefits at 60ths. For funded public sector pensions, the most common accrual rate in 2011 was 60ths: 64 per cent of active members accrued benefits at 60ths and a further 24 per cent accrued benefits at 60ths plus an additional lump sum on retirement.

Table 5.1: Number of active members of defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by accrual rate, sector and funding status, 2011 (UK, millions)

    Private total Public Public Public total Total
    Funded Unfunded
50ths or better 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1
Between 50ths and 60ths .. .. .. .. 0.1
60ths plus additional lump sum 0.0 0.5 0.1 0.6 0.7
60ths 0.7 1.2 0.6 1.8 2.5
80ths plus 3/80ths lump sum 0.5 0.2 2.2 2.5 2.9
Between 60ths and 80ths 0.3 0.0 0.2 0.2 0.5
80ths .. .. .. .. 0.1
Less generous than 80ths 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. .. indicates cells that have been suppressed to protect confidentiality.
  2. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.
  3. Excludes non-response.
  4. The 'Public total' and 'Total' columns contain members of public sector schemes where the scheme's funding status is unknown.

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Figure 5.2 shows the number of active members of defined benefit schemes in the private sector by the main accrual rate categories and section status (open or closed). Two-thirds of those accruing benefits at 60ths, the most common accrual rate, were in closed sections of schemes.

Figure 5.2: Number of active members of private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by main accrual rate category and status, 2011 (UK, millions)

Number of active members of private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by main accrual rate category and status
Source: Occupational Pension Scheme Survey (OPSS) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Excludes non-response.
  2. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.

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Table 5.3 shows similar information for public sector schemes, where 58 per cent of those accruing benefits at 80ths plus an additional lump sum of 3/80ths were in closed sections of schemes while 87 per cent of those accruing benefits at 60ths (with or without an additional lump sum) were in open sections.

Table 5.3: Number of active members of public sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by main accrual rate category and status, 2011 (UK, millions)

  Open Closed
60ths 1.5 0.3
60ths plus an additional lump sum 0.6 ..
80ths plus 3/80ths lump sum 1.0 1.4

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes accrual rate categories with few or no members, suppressed categories and non-response (see Table 5.1).
  2. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.
  3. .. indicates cells that have been suppressed to protect confidentiality.

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Table 5.4 shows the historical series for accrual rates in private sector defined benefit schemes from 1979. It should be noted that the two categories ‘60ths’ and ‘80ths with an additional 3/80ths lump sum’ were combined before 2004. There was a change in methodology in the 2004 survey that allowed for the separate classification of schemes offering 60ths and those offering 80ths with an additional lump sum of 3/80ths.

The number of active members with an accrual rate of 1/60th fell from 2.2 million in 2004 to 0.7 million in 2011 (Table 5.4). This group remained relatively stable as a proportion of total active membership (just over 60 per cent) from 2004 to 2007, but then fell to 48 per cent in 2010 and 38 per cent in 2011 (excluding non-response).

Table 5.4: Number of active members of private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by accrual rate, 1979 to 2011 (UK, millions)

    1979 1983 1987 1991 1995 2000 2004 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Better than 60ths 0.5 0.7 0.5 0.9 0.7 1.0 0.5 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.5 0.3 0.2
60ths and 80ths plus 3/80ths lump sum 3.4 3.2 3.4 3.7 3.4 2.9
60ths 2.2 1.8 1.6 1.4 1.1 0.9 0.7
80ths plus 3/80ths lump sum 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.3 0.5
Between 60ths and 80ths 0.2 0.5 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.3
80ths 1.4 0.6 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.5 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.1
Less generous than 80ths 0.3 0.3 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Non response 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1
Totals 5.6 5.3 5.3 5.6 5.1 4.5 3.6 2.9 2.7 2.6 2.4 2.1 1.9

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.
  2. The 2005 survey did not collect information on accrual rates.
  3. Due to changes in the definition of the private and public sectors, estimates for 2000 onwards differ from earlier years. From 2000, organisations such as the Post Office and the BBC were reclassified from the public to the private sector.
  4. Changes to methodology for 2006 onwards mean that comparisons with 2005 and earlier should be treated with caution.
  5. Changes to methodology for 2010 onwards mean that comparisons with 2010 and earlier should be treated with caution.

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Many defined benefit schemes allow retiring members to exchange some of their annual pension for an immediate lump sum. This is known as commutation, and the rate of exchange of annual pension for lump sum is known as the commutation rate. For example, a commutation rate of 12 means that for every £1 of annual pension which members give up, they will receive a lump sum of £12. The rate is determined by the pension scheme rules.

Figure 5.5 shows the commutation rates for men and women in private sector defined benefit schemes in 2011. Overall, active members of private sector defined benefit schemes who are women have slightly better commutation rates than men. For instance, in schemes with a normal pension age of 65, commutation rates of 14 or more for women were available in schemes representing 43 per cent of active membership in 2011, while for men rates of 14 or more were available in schemes representing 35 per cent of active membership.

Figure 5.5: Proportion of active members of private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by commutation rate, normal pension age and sex, 2011 (UK, percentages)

Proportion of active members of private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by commutation rate, normal pension age and sex
Source: Occupational Pension Scheme Survey (OPSS) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Percentages are calculated excluding non-response.
  2. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.

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Table 5.6 shows similar information for the public sector in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Here, gender had minimal effect on the commutation rates. For instance, in public sector schemes with a normal pension age of 65, almost all members were entitled to receive between £12 and £14 for every £1 of pension given up. These commutation rates were less generous than in the private sector, where (as noted in the previous paragraph) in schemes with a normal pension age of 65, male commutation rates of 14 or more were available in schemes representing 35 per cent of members in 2011, while female commutation rates of 14 or more were available in schemes representing 43 per cent of members.

Table 5.6: Proportion of active members of public sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by commutation rate, normal pension age and sex, 2009 to 2011 (UK, percentages)

  NPA 64 or younger NPA 65
Men Women Men Women
2009 2010 2011 2009 2010 2011 2009 2010 2011 2009 2010 2011
Less than 10 0 0 0 0
10 to less than 12 0 .. 0 0 0 0
12 to less than 14 93 92 95 93 92 95 100 100 100 100 100 100
14 to less than 16 0 .. .. .. .. 0 .. .. 0 ..
16 and over 6 8 5 7 8 5 0 0

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. NPA = Normal Pension Age.
  2. Percentages are calculated excluding non-response.
  3. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.
  4. .. indicates cells that have been suppressed to protect confidentiality.

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The most common ways in which private sector defined benefit schemes use pensionable earnings to calculate benefits in retirement continues to be final pensionable earnings either in the form of final salary, or the best year’s earnings of the last few years of employment, or the average of the best Y years’ earnings in the last Z years (Table 5.7). However, ‘career average’ schemes, which use average earnings over the whole career rather than final earnings, are becoming more common. In career average schemes, pension entitlements are increased or ‘revalued’ each year. The increases may be in line with inflation –price indexation based on the Retail Prices Index (RPI) or the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) – or in line with earnings growth.

Table 5.7: Number of active members of private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by pensionable earnings used for calculating benefits, 2011 (UK, millions)

Earnings in period or point in time up to 12 months before retirement 0.5
Best year's earnings in last X years 0.8
Average years' earnings in last X years 0.2
Average of best Y years' earnings in last Z years 0.8
Average earnings over whole career revalued in line with prices 0.5
Average earnings over whole career revalued in line with earnings 0.0

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.
  2. Members may appear in more than one category. For reference, in 2011 there were 1.9 million active members of defined benefit schemes excluding schemes with fewer than 12 members.
  3. The last two categories listed are career average schemes.

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In 2011, 0.5 million active members (25 per cent of the active membership of private sector defined benefit schemes) were in schemes where, for at least some of the members, average earnings over the whole career revalued in line with prices were used to calculate benefits; this is the same level as in 2010. The number of active members in schemes where, for at least some of the members, average earnings over the whole career revalued in line with earnings were used to calculate benefits, remains low – less than 1 per cent of active members.

The survey also provides information on the number of active members in private sector schemes which only calculated benefits on a career average basis (for all members). In 2011, 0.3 million active members were in schemes where all members’ benefits were on a career average basis, of which 98 per cent were in schemes which revalued pension entitlements in line with prices (price indexation). The rest of this section relates solely to those in price indexed career average schemes.

The majority of active members of such schemes in the private sector (86 per cent) were in schemes with 10,000+ members, and nearly all were in schemes with over 1,000 members. Around two-thirds of active members in such schemes in the private sector had accrual rates between 60ths and 80ths.

The main recommendation of the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission chaired by Lord Hutton of Furness (see Chapter 1) was that existing final salary public pension schemes should be replaced by career average schemes. Currently the main career average pension schemes in the public sector are those for the civil service and for the general and dental practitioner sections of the NHS schemes.  

Benefits on ill-health retirement

Most schemes offer benefits to active members who have to retire before normal pension age because of ill health. Schemes were asked whether they provided such benefits, and if so, how the level of benefits was calculated.  Almost all defined benefit schemes offered benefits on ill-health retirement in 2011.

Table 5.8: Number of active members of private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes where ill-health benefits are offered: by the type of benefit, 2011 (UK, millions)

Accrued pension based on salary and service reduced due to early retirement 0.3
Accrued pension based on salary and service unreduced 0.9
Pension based on salary and actual service, plus part of potential service 0.9
Pension based on salary and actual service, plus the whole of potential service 1.0
Benefits from a Permanent Health Insurance (PHI) scheme 0.1
Benefit at the discretion of the trustees/employer 1.0
Benefit dependent on individual case 0.7
Other benefit 0.1

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.
  2. Members may appear in more than one category. For reference, in 2011 there were 1.9 million active members of defined benefit schemes excluding schemes with fewer than 12 members.

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Table 5.8 shows that, of those schemes which offered such benefits in the private sector (98 per cent), 1.0 million active members (just over half) were in schemes which offered ill-health benefits based on salary and actual service plus the whole of potential service; and 0.9 million active members (just under half) were in schemes which offered ill-health benefits based on salary and actual service plus part of potential service. For 1.0 million active members, ill-health benefits were paid at the discretion of the trustees or employer.

Benefits on early retirement

Active members who leave work before normal pension age and who are not eligible for an ill-health pension or other similar benefit are strictly entitled by law only to a preserved pension payable from normal pension age. However, many schemes offer the possibility of an immediate pension to some members who retire before normal pension age, provided that they have reached the legal minimum age for retirement other than on ill-health grounds. This increased from 50 to 55 from April 2010 under the terms of the Finance Act 2004 which came into force in April 2006.

Members of schemes with a protected lower retirement age can still retire before age 55, subject to certain restrictions (see Pensions Advisory Service website for information on the minimum retirement age). Such protected lower retirement ages are common in the public sector, where most active members still have the right to retire from the age of 50 in certain circumstances. The main exception to the rule of the legal minimum age for retirement is the Armed Forces pension scheme, which until 2005 provided an immediate pension after 16 years’ pensionable service for officers and 22 years’ service for other ranks.

A new pension scheme for the Armed Forces, introduced in 2005, replaced this arrangement with an ‘early departure payment’ from 18 years of service or age 40 for all ranks. Under the new scheme, the full pension is payable at normal pension age (65 years). The other exceptions are firefighters and police officers. In 2006, new pension schemes were introduced for firefighters and police officers. Firefighters with pensions under the pre-2006 pension scheme could retire at 50 or after accruing 25 years of service.

Under the 2006 pension scheme, the minimum age for retirement is 55, compared with a normal pension age of 60. Police officers with pensions under the pre-2006 scheme could retire at any age with no reduction in pension if they had completed 30 years’ service. Under the 2006 pension scheme, the minimum number of service years for a full pension was increased to 35 (and normal pension age to 55, see Chapter 3).

In 2011, a pension on early retirement was available for 98 per cent of active members of private sector defined benefit schemes. There were variations in levels of benefits offered, which might depend on whether early retirement is on the member’s own initiative or as a result of the employer asking the employee to take early retirement, as well as on the specific options available in each scheme.

Table 5.9 shows that most active members were likely to face a reduction in their annual pension if they retired early. However, there were exceptions: at five years before normal pension age, 0.6 million active members could retire with no reduction in pension and 0.4 million might be able to retire with some enhancement to their pension.

Table 5.9: Number of active members of private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes where a pension is available on early retirement: by the level of benefit offered in the years before normal pension age, 2011 (UK, millions)

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Accrued pension:                              
reduced by 4% a year or higher 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 0.8 0.8 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
reduced by a factor lower than 4% a year 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
with no reduction 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
with some enhancement 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Pension subject to variable reductions:                              
based on trustees' advice 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
based on actuarial advice 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Another approach is used 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Members may appear in more than one category as a scheme may have different approaches towards early retirement depending on whether it is on the member's or the employer's initiative.
  2. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.

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Death in service benefits

Most schemes offer benefits in cases where members die before retirement. These are known as ‘death in service’ benefits. Private sector defined benefit schemes were asked whether they offered such benefits and if so, what form they took. Table 5.10 shows that in 2011, a pension was offered to a surviving spouse as of right under scheme rules for 87 per cent of active members. For nearly three-quarters of active members, a pension was offered to surviving children as of right under scheme rules.

Pensions for other nominated people were only available as of right under scheme rules for 4 per cent of active members in 2011. This is probably due to HM Revenue and Customs rules on benefits from pension schemes, which require scheme trustees to take a view on the level of financial dependence of an adult dependant other than the spouse.

In 2011, 62 per cent of active members of private sector defined benefit schemes were in schemes where a lump sum benefit was offered as of right under the scheme rules. Where a lump sum was offered, the lump sum was normally calculated as a multiple of the member’s earnings at the time of death. In the private sector in 2011, 7 per cent of active members (excluding non-response) were in schemes providing a multiple of between two and three times salary, 42 per cent in schemes providing between three and four times salary and 50 per cent in schemes providing four or more times salary (Table 5.11).

Active members of public sector schemes were offered less generous lump sums on death in service, with 39 per cent belonging to schemes which provided a multiple of between two and three times salary, 57 per cent in schemes providing between three and four times salary and only 2 per cent in schemes providing four or more times salary.

Table 5.10: Number of active members of private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by death in service benefit offered, 2011 (UK, millions)

  As of right under the scheme rules At trustees' discretion If no adult dependant exists Not applicable Non response Total
Lump sum from pension fund 1.2 0.6   0.1 0.0 2.1
Return of contributions, with or without interest 0.7 0.2 0.2 0.8 0.0 2.1
Pension to surviving spouse 1.7 0.2   0.1 0.0 2.1
Pension to surviving children 1.4 0.3 0.1 0.1 0.0 2.1
Pension to another nominated person   0.1 1.5 0.0 0.3 0.0 2.1

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. .. indicates cells that have been suppressed to protect confidentiality.
  2. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.

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Table 5.11: Number of active members of defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by method of calculating lump sum offered on death in service and sector, 2011 (UK, millions)

  Private Public Total
Under 2x 0.0 0.0 0.0
2x and under 3x 0.1 2.1 2.2
3x and under 4x 0.8 3.1 3.8
4x or greater 0.9 0.1 1.0
Multiple used but figure not given 0.0 0.0 0.0
Fixed amount .. .. ..
Dependent on salary and service .. .. ..
Other method used 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 1.9 5.3 7.2

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. .. indicates cells that have been suppressed to protect confidentiality.
  2. Totals include non-response.
  3. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.

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Benefits on death after retirement

In addition to benefits given on the death in service of an active member, most schemes also give benefits on the death of a pensioner member. Figure 5.12 shows that for private sector defined benefit schemes in 2011, 94 per cent of pensions in payment were accompanied by a pension to a surviving spouse or civil partner on death of the pensioner member, as of right under the scheme rules. Less than three-quarters (71 per cent) provided such a pension as of right to surviving children, and only 9 per cent provided such a pension as of right to another nominated person. In 2011, three-quarters of pensions in payment in private sector defined benefit schemes were accompanied by a lump sum or pension guarantee provided as of right under the scheme rules on death of the pensioner member (Figure 5.12).

Figure 5.12: Proportion of pensions in payment in private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by benefit payable on death after retirement, 2011 (UK, percentages)

Proportion of pensions in payment in private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by benefit payable on death after retirement
Source: Occupational Pension Scheme Survey (OPSS) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Percentages are calculated excluding non-response.
  2. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.

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Figure 5.13 shows the nature of the benefits provided to the surviving spouse or other nominated person on death after retirement in 2009, 2010 and 2011. For nearly all pensions in payment, the benefits were based on a percentage of the member’s pension; 72 per cent (3.4 million) would receive benefits of up to and including 50 per cent of the member’s pension before commutation.

Figure 5.13: Number of pensions in payment in private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by benefit given to a surviving spouse or other nominated person on death after retirement, 2009 to 2011 (UK, millions)

Number of pensions in payment in private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by benefit given to a surviving spouse or other nominated person on death after retirement
Source: Occupational Pension Scheme Survey (OPSS) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.

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Increases to pensions

Pensions in payment from occupational schemes are normally increased on an annual basis, to account for increases in the cost of living. The Pensions Act 1995 introduced the requirement that, for pensions which accrued after April 1997, pensions in payment must be increased annually in line with increases in the price index, the Retail Prices Index (RPI, which changed to the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) from April 2011), up to a maximum of 5 per cent.

The Pensions Act 2004 reduced this maximum to 2.5 per cent for pensions accruing from 2005. There is no similar requirement relating to pensions accruing as a result of pensionable service prior to April 1997, with the exception of guaranteed minimum pensions (GMPs) and in certain circumstances where there has been a refund of surplus from the scheme to an employer. In the public sector, pensions in payment now increase in line with CPI. Prior to April 2011, indexation was based on the RPI. (This article considers the implications of the move from RPI to CPI.)

In 2011, the relevant questions on the private sector forms were amended to refer to include references to CPI. 16 per cent of active members of private sector pension schemes with pensions currently accruing were offered increases with reference to the statutory minimum only (Table 5.14).  36 per cent of active members of private sector pension schemes with pensions currently accruing were offered increases with reference to a guarantee of capped RPI but with a cap higher than 2.5 per cent a year.

Table 5.14: Number of active members of private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by increases offered on pensions currently accruing, 2011 (UK, millions)

Only statutory minimum (CPI capped at 2.5%) 0.3
Guarantee of full uncapped CPI 0.3
Guarantee of capped CPI but with a cap higher than  2.5% a year 0.1
Guarantee of capped RPI but with a cap higher than  2.5% a year 0.7
Guarantee of fixed rate (2.5% a year or higher) 0.0
Guarantee of statutory minimum (but fund for or target higher discretionary increases) 0.1
Other 0.4
Non response 0.0

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.

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Table 5.15 shows the number of pensions in payment in 2011 by the percentage by which the scheme increased pensions each year from 2009 to 2011 for three types of pension: a) those which accrued benefits before 1997, b) those which accrued between 1997 and 2005 and c) those which accrued after 2005. In each case, the numbers represent all pensions in payment in private sector defined benefit schemes in 2011 (excluding non-response), not just those of type a, b or c. For example, in 2011 there were 2.2 million pensions in payment in schemes where, if a pension had first accrued between 1997 and 2005, it would have been increased by 4 per cent or more in 2009.

The proportions change depending upon in which year the pensions accrued but for example, for pensions in payment in 2011 that were accruing post 2005:

  • In 2009, 37 per cent were increased by 4 per cent or more.

  • In 2010, 45 per cent were not increased at all.

  • In 2011, 52 per cent were increased by 4 per cent or more.

Table 5.15: Number of pensions in payment in private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by date pensions accrued and the increase paid each year from 2009 to 2011, as of 2011 (UK, millions)

    2009 2010 2011
         
Pensions accrued pre 1997      
  0% 1.1 2.0 0.6
  0.01 to 1.99% 1.2 0.1 0.0
  2 to 2.99% 0.0 0.8 0.2
  3 to 3.99% 0.6 1.1 1.2
  4% or more 1.7 0.7 2.5
         
Pensions accrued between 1997 and 2005    
  0% 0.8 2.0 0.2
  0.01 to 1.99% 1.3 0.1 ..
  2 to 2.99% 0.1 0.8 0.1
  3 to 3.99% 0.3 0.9 0.9
  4% or more 2.2 0.8 3.3
         
Pensions accrued post 2005      
  0% 0.8 2.0 0.2
  0.01 to 1.99% 1.3 0.0 ..
  2 to 2.99% 0.5 1.1 1.0
  3 to 3.99% 0.2 0.7 0.9
  4% or more 1.6 0.6 2.3

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.
  2. Excludes non-response.

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Increases to preserved pensions

Since 1986, schemes have been required to revalue all or part of preserved pensions for members who have left service before normal pension age (‘deferred members’) until the pensions come into payment. Different rules apply to different parts of the preserved pension. Various approaches are taken to revaluing them, in particular to the treatment of the guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) and non-GMP elements. Private sector schemes were asked whether the increase to the GMP portion of the preserved pension was related to increases in national average earnings (Section 148 orders) or a fixed-rate increase.

In 2011, 65 per cent of deferred members (excluding non-response) were in schemes where a fixed-rate revaluation was used. Most of the rest (27 per cent) had increases related to Section 148 orders. Regarding the non-GMP portion of the preserved pension, private sector schemes were asked whether this was increased by: the statutory minimum – in line with the price index but subject to a maximum of 5 per cent a year (compound); in line with the Retail Prices Index (RPI) without limit; or by some other method. In 2011, 63 per cent of deferred members were in a scheme offering the statutory minimum. A further 8 per cent were in schemes offering increases in line with RPI without limit.

Benefits for deferred members on death before normal pension age

In the same way that benefits are paid when active members die in service, benefits are generally paid when deferred members die before the scheme’s normal pension age. Table 5.16 shows what form these benefits took in 2011, and whether they were granted as of right under the scheme rules, or at the discretion of the scheme trustees.

Table 5.16: Number of deferred members in private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by benefit payable on death before normal pension age and right to benefit, 2011 (UK, millions)

  As of right under the scheme rules At trustees' discretion Not applicable Non response
Refund of contributions 2.3 0.9 1.8 0.0
Other lump sum 1.3 0.5 3.2 0.0
Pension to surviving spouse (over and above any GMP) and/or to surviving children 4.5 0.3 0.2 0.0
Pension to another nominated person         
0.3 3.8 1.0 0.0
 

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.

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There has been a small increase in the proportion of deferred members belonging to private sector defined benefit schemes which offer a refund of contributions as of right under scheme rules (from 42 per cent of responses in 2004 to 47 per cent in 2011). This has been accompanied by a small reduction in the proportion benefiting from the payment of other lump sums as of right under scheme rules (from 30 per cent to 26 per cent). The proportion for whom the surviving spouse and/or children are entitled to a pension as of right under the scheme rules was almost unchanged in 2011, from 90 per cent in 2004 to 89 per cent in 2011. The proportion of deferred members for whom other nominated people were entitled to a pension as of right was 5 per cent in 2011, a fall from 9 per cent in 2004.

Policy on transfers

It is a statutory requirement that schemes must offer members with preserved pension entitlements the option of a transfer payment in exchange for these rights. If the member chooses this option, the transfer payment must be paid into another pension arrangement, either an occupational pension scheme (defined benefit or defined contribution) when the member has entered new pensionable employment, or a personal or stakeholder pension. In defined benefit schemes, the transfer payment will reflect the value of the preserved pension entitlement given up, as assessed by the scheme actuary in accordance with actuarial professional guidance.

Members of occupational pension schemes can obtain a payment from their existing scheme to transfer either to another occupational scheme or to a personal or stakeholder pension. The payment is known as a Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV). Actuarial Guidance Note GN11 describes the calculation of these payments. GN11 also applies to the calculation of pension values for divorce proceedings and to the disclosure of directors’ pensions in company accounts.

Table 5.17 shows the approaches to calculating CETVs for deferred members of private sector defined benefit schemes in 2011. Some 4.0 million deferred members (80 per cent of the total) were in schemes which calculated CETVs on a GN11 basis with no reduction for underfunding.

Table 5.17: Number of deferred members in private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by the basis on which CETVs are calculated, 2011 (UK, millions)

On a GN11 basis and no reduction for underfunding 4.0
On a GN11 basis but reduced for underfunding 0.5
An enhanced amount above the GN11 basis 0.1
On an alternative basis 0.4

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.

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Some defined benefit schemes offer discretionary benefits such as increases to pensions in payment, which may be taken into account in calculating a transfer value. The scheme actuary must take into account these discretionary benefits unless directed to do otherwise by the scheme trustees. In 2011, 20 per cent of deferred members of private sector defined benefit schemes (excluding non-response) were in schemes which took discretionary benefits into account when calculating the CETV.

Private sector defined benefit schemes were also asked whether they provided an ‘equalisation indemnity’ guaranteeing that the transferred benefits would be completely equalised before the transfer payment was made to the receiving pension arrangement. In 2011, 36 per cent of all private sector deferred members (excluding non-response) were in schemes which offered such an ‘equalisation indemnity’, 6 per cent including GMPs and 31 per cent excluding GMPs (note that these figures do not add due to rounding).

In 2011, 58 per cent of active members of open private sector defined benefit schemes (0.5 million) were in schemes which would accept an incoming transfer value. In such schemes, 57 per cent of active members had added pensionable service (‘added years’) available to them with a transfer into the pension scheme (Table 5.18).

Table 5.18: Number of active members of open private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by the benefits available in respect of incoming transfer values, 2011 (UK, millions)

  Available Not available
Added pensionable service ("added years") 0.3 0.2
A fixed pension (possibly indexed) 0.0 0.5
Money purchase benefits 0.2 0.3
Other benefits 0.0 0.5

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Only schemes which accept transfers in (covering 0.5 million active members).
  2. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.

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Figure 5.19: Proportion of active members of private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by the benefits normally offered to leavers with less than two years’ service, 2009 to 2011 (UK, percentages)

Proportion of active members of private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by the benefits normally offered to leavers with less than two years’ service
Source: Occupational Pension Scheme Survey (OPSS) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Percentages are calculated excluding non-response.
  2. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.
  3. Members may appear in more than one category.

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Occupational pension schemes are not legally required to provide preserved pensions to leavers with less than two years’ pensionable service. Therefore, schemes were asked for their policy towards those leaving in these circumstances. Figure 5.19 shows the results for active members by whether the scheme offers a refund of contributions, a preserved pension or a CETV. As for defined contribution schemes (see Chapter 6), for private sector defined benefit schemes the main options reported were a refund of contributions and transfer payments (CETVs) into another scheme.

Pension sharing on divorce

When a member of an occupational pension scheme is divorced, a pension sharing order is sometimes made, which entitles the member’s former spouse to a share of the member’s benefits. The former spouse would then have their own rights in the scheme, and would be known as a ‘pension credit member’. Private sector defined benefit schemes were asked about their policy towards this group of members. Figure 5.20 presents the results.

The number of active members for whom pension credit members’ entitlements are always kept in the scheme is very small, as in the case of defined contribution schemes (see Chapter 6). In 2011, for 68 per cent of active members excluding non-response (1.3 million), pension credit members’ entitlements were always transferred out of the scheme. The number of active members for whom pension credit members were offered a choice was 0.6 million (30 per cent) in 2011.

Figure 5.20: Number of active members of private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by the scheme's approach to entitlements of pension credit members, 2009 to 2011 (UK, millions)

Number of active members of private sector defined benefit occupational pension schemes: by the scheme's approach to entitlements of pension credit members
Source: Occupational Pension Scheme Survey (OPSS) - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Excludes schemes with fewer than 12 members.
  2. Pension credit members are former spouses of members who have gained their rights as a result of a pension credit following pension sharing on divorce.

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Background notes

  1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Supporting information

Further information

Executive Summary: OPSS Annual Report, 2011 - The annual report of the Occupational Pension Schemes Survey presents results including membership, contribution rates and benefits relating to occupational pension schemes. The Executive Summary gives the key findings from each chapter.
Chapter 1: Introduction - OPSS Annual Report, 2011 - The annual report of the Occupational Pension Schemes Survey presents results including membership, contribution rates and benefits relating to occupational pension schemes. Chapter 1 introduces the report, explains the background to the survey and explains which results appear in which chapter.
Chapter 2: Scheme Numbers - OPSS Annual Report, 2011 - The annual report of the Occupational Pension Schemes Survey presents results including membership, contribution rates and benefits relating to occupational pension schemes. Chapter 2 provides estimates of the number of occupational pension schemes.
Chapter 3: Scheme Membership - OPSS Annual Report, 2011 - The annual report of the Occupational Pension Schemes Survey presents results including membership, contribution rates and benefits relating to occupational pension schemes. Chapter 3 provides estimates occupational pension scheme membership.
Chapter 4: Contributions - OPSS Annual Report, 2011 - The annual report of the Occupational Pension Schemes Survey presents results including membership, contribution rates and benefits relating to occupational pension schemes. Chapter 4 provides estimates of contribution rates to occupational pension schemes.
Chapter 6: Benefits in Defined Contribution Schemes - OPSS Annual Report, 2011 - The annual report of the Occupational Pension Schemes Survey presents results including membership, contribution rates and benefits relating to occupational pension schemes. Chapter 6 provides estimates on benefits provided to those in defined contribution occupational pension schemes.
Chapter 7: Very Small Schemes - OPSS Annual Report, 2011 - The annual report of the Occupational Pension Schemes Survey presents results including membership, contribution rates and benefits relating to occupational pension schemes. Chapter 7 provides estimates relating to occupational pension schemes with 2 to 11 members.
Chapter 8: Winding Up Schemes - OPSS Annual Report, 2011 - The annual report of the Occupational Pension Schemes Survey presents results including membership, contribution rates and benefits relating to occupational pension schemes. Chapter 8 provides estimates on schemes in the process of winding up.
Chapter 9: Changes to Schemes - OPSS Annual Report, 2011 - The annual report of the Occupational Pension Schemes Survey presents results including membership, contribution rates and benefits relating to occupational pension schemes. Chapter 9 provides estimates on changes to occupational pension scheme rules.
Chapter 10: Methodology - OPSS Annual Report, 2011 - The annual report of the Occupational Pension Schemes Survey presents results including membership, contribution rates and benefits relating to occupational pension schemes. Chapter 10 provides information on the survey methodology.
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