New rules put Beeb’s pension fund in red

Accounting standards, stock market values affects decline

LONDON — The BBC warned staff on Wednesday that there will be a £1 billion ($1.63 billion) shortfall in its pension fund when full-year accounts are published Tuesday.

The red ink is blamed on a change in accounting standards and the decline in stock market values. Under the old accounting method, the fund has a surplus of $338 million, down from $720 million a year ago.

Despite the shortfall, John Smith, the Beeb’s finance chief described the fund as “healthy,” declaring that it earns more income from its investment and contributions than it pays out.

He added that the modest bounce-back in stock markets since the balance sheet date means that, even under the new rules, the deficit is now $400 million lower.

However, the BBC has already started to hike its contribution to the scheme from 4.5% to 6% of salary, and employees will be expected to follow suit.

Some 55,000 BBC staffers are entitled to pensions worth two thirds of their final salary, more generous than most companies’ schemes.

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