UK plc unaware of new pensions rule

A mere 9% of 40 FTSE-250 companies surveyed by PricewaterhouseCoopers have looked at the effects the new rule, effective from 2003, will have on their results. The remaining 91% are unaware of the changes FRS 17 will bring.

Peter Holgate, senior technical partner at PwC, said: ‘The requirements of FRS 17 are significantly different to those of SSAP 24 and will take both companies and the users of accounts some time to get used to. Companies should be considering the information required for disclosure now so that proper thought can be given to it.’

The findings come on the heels of a yearly survey conducted by the actuarial firm Lane Clark & Peacock which heavily criticised leading FTSE companies for below average pensions’ disclosure. The current standard, SSAP 24, requires less disclosure than the incoming FRS 17.

Under the new standard companies will have to show pension fund gains and losses as they occur. At present businesses can spread any gains and losses over time.

Chris Massey, divisional director of employee benefits’ specialist Gissing, told Accountancy Age this week: ‘Few FDs have come knocking on our door asking what to do about FRS 17. It doesn’t appear to be in their planning process.

‘It is well worth their while for FDs to sit down with actuaries and find out about the [standard’s] flexibility. It is not as prescriptive as many people make out.’

Companies polled by PwC said the main reason for not having adopted FRS 17 was because the requirements are onerous and require significant management time and costly actuarial input.

The new standard’s disclosure requirements also cover overseas schemes of overseas subsidiaries.


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