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Summary Funding Statement – a financial update

What do we mean by funding position?

The Trustee is responsible for ensuring that the Plan has enough money set aside (assets) to pay current and projected future pension benefits to members (liabilities). If the assets are more than the liabilities the Plan is said to be in surplus. If the liabilities are more than the assets, it is said to be in deficit.

The Plan’s Actuary carries out a formal, in-depth financial health check of the Plan every three years, called a full valuation. In the interim years the Actuary carries out annual funding reviews, which are approximate updates. Below you can see a summary of the Plan’s financial health since 2019.


Assets £m


Liabilities £m


Funding level %



Assets £m


Liabilities £m


Funding level %



Assets £m


Liabilities £m


Funding level %



Assets £m


Liabilities £m


Funding level %



Assets £m


Liabilities £m


Funding level %


The funding level as at 5 April 2023 decreased by 4% when compared to 5 April 2022. This was mainly due to investment returns on the Plan’s assets lagging the change in the value of liabilities over the year, partially offset by contributions made by the Company. You can find more details on the Plan’s funding position and finances in the latest Report and Accounts, available on the Plan website.

The Recovery Plan

The difference between the funding level and 100% funding is called either a shortfall or a surplus. The Plan relies on contributions from the Company to remove any funding shortfall. When there is a shortfall, a Recovery Plan is required to bring the Plan’s funding level back up to be fully funded (i.e. 100%).

Under the current Recovery Plan agreed as part of the 2021 valuation, the Company paid £2 million in September 2022 and a further £2 million in January 2023. The Company is due to pay a final contribution under the current Recovery Plan of £1.9 million by 31 March 2024 to help eliminate the funding shortfall.

The Plan’s administration expenses, insurance premiums and levies to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) are payable by the Company in addition.

If a funding shortfall remains at the next full valuation, due as at 5 April 2024, then a new Recovery Plan will be established.

No intervention by The Pensions Regulator

The Pensions Regulator has powers to intervene in a Plan’s funding schedule and can impose a schedule of contributions if they feel it’s necessary for the Plan to meet the statutory funding objective. We’re happy to report that The Pensions Regulator has not used any of these powers in relation to the Plan.

No payments to the Company

We can confirm that no payments have been made to any of the participating employers over the 12 months to 5 April 2023.

What would happen if the Plan were to be discontinued?

This is a legally required statement; there is no intention to wind up the Plan and the Company remains committed to supporting it.

If the Plan was discontinued, its assets would be used to buy equivalent benefits from an insurance company. As at 5 April 2021, the Plan’s assets would have covered around 77% of the estimated amount needed to buy members’ benefits from an insurance company.

This percentage is less than the funding level because it is a more costly method than providing benefits through the Plan, partly because the insurer needs to make a profit. That’s why the winding-up position is lower than the funding level.

If the Plan wound up voluntarily, the Company would be required to pay in funds to meet 100% of the benefits in this situation. If the Company became insolvent and could not provide sufficient funds to secure 100% of benefits, the Plan would possibly enter the PPF.

Market changes during the last year

Over the year to 5 April 2023, the long-term cost of UK government borrowing has increased significantly. This has led to considerable reductions in the market value of government bonds (known as “gilts”). The Plan’s investment strategy is to hold 50% of its investible funds backing its liabilities in gilts and related assets. Therefore, over the year the market value of the Plan’s assets has fallen significantly.

The fall in market values of gilts has meant that the prospective return on these assets (the “yield”) has risen. This has led to a corresponding fall in the value of the Plan’s liabilities over the year (since a higher future return is now expected from these assets than before). This fall in liability values has gone some way to offset the fall in the market value of the Plan’s assets.

The Trustee continues to monitor the funding position of the Plan and the strength of the Company to support the Plan. The funding position will be reassessed in detail at the next full valuation, due as at 5 April 2024. Should that show a funding shortfall, the Trustee and Company will agree a new Recovery Plan targeting full funding over an appropriate period.

Members’ benefits continue to be guaranteed by D&B as the sponsoring company. The Trustee remains confident that the sponsoring company can and will meet any future contributions required to restore the Plan to full funding, and that the Plan will be able to continue to pay members’ full benefits as and when they fall due.

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