COUNCIL workers have been assured there is no black hole in their pensions.
Kirklees Council’s pension scheme is £380.1m in the red – but a top accountant said yesterday that the situation was under control.
The council’s assistant director of finance Robin Goater told the Examiner: “We have a long-term strategy to bring us back into balance. There’s no immediate problem that we can’t deal with.
“There isn’t a pensions black hole.”
Figures released at the end of the last financial year on March 31 showed Kirklees had pension liabilities to current and retired workers of more than £1bn.
The council’s pension pot stood at £736m at the end of March – meaning there was a deficit of £380m.
But Mr Goater said the financial position has improved since those figures were released six months ago.
He said: “The pension fund deficit was significantly influenced by the reduction in the stock market. The market has gone up 25% since March and we have one of the best performing pension funds in the country.”
The deficit could also be reduced by changes in the council’s level of contributions. Kirklees currently puts 12.4% of the level of a workers’ salary into their pension fund.
The council will review the level of contribution next year.
Kirklees workers contribute a minimum of 6% of their salaries towards their pensions.
Kirklees Council’s £380.1m deficit on March 31 compared with £179.1m for Calderdale, £351.5m in Wakefield, £377m for Bradford and £715m for Leeds.
Many public bodies have reported a pension deficit this year caused by an ageing population – meaning more money is going out – and the fall in share prices, which means less money is coming in.
Royal Mail’s deficit increased from £2.9bn to £6.8bn this year.