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We’ve published the Purple Book 2023, the most comprehensive data and analysis of the UK defined benefit (DB) pension landscape.

The Purple Book is essential for helping us understand the risks we face as an organisation.

The 18th edition of the Purple Book, also known as the Pensions Universe Risk Profile, confirms there’s been an accelerated improvement in DB scheme funding.

The Purple Book 2023 reported that:

  • The net funding position on a section 179 basis improved to a surplus of £358.9bn in the year to 31 March 2023, with more than 80 per cent of schemes in surplus.
  • There's been a year-on-year acceleration in the improvement in the net funding position.
  • The aggregate funding ratio increased from 102.8 per cent in 2021 and 113.1 per cent in 2022 to 134 per cent in the year to 31 March 2023.
  • The number of DB schemes in the universe has fallen slightly from 5,131 to 5,063 over the year as result of schemes winding up, merging or claiming on the PPF
  • The DB universe remains highly fragmented, with a long tail of smaller schemes.
  • Schemes in the universe have continued to invest a large proportion (69 per cent) of their assets in bonds.
  • The proportion invested in private equities has risen but the proportion of assets invested in UK-quoted equities has fallen to a new record low.

Our Chief Actuary and Interim Chief Financial Officer, Shalin Bhagwan, said, “Over the last year, there has been a material improvement in the aggregate funding position of the schemes we protect.

"Just as the PPF has entered a maturing phase, the wider defined benefit universe looks to be similarly moving into a new phase with many schemes accelerating towards buyout funding levels. This will likely further sharpen the focus on endgames and the options available to schemes.”

We celebrated the launch of this year's Purple Book with a live webinar hosted by Professional Pensions. Shalin Bhagwan along with Actuary, James Emmott, gave an exclusive preview of the Purple Book, followed by a Q&A with more of our Actuarial team.