By Daniel Hunter

Data released today (Tuesday) by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has shown that the collective deficit of the UK's private sector final-salary pension schemes fell slightly in December.

According to the PPF the deficit fell from £252 billion at the end of November to £245 billion a month later.

In total there were 5,173 schemes in deficit and 1,143 schemes in surplus.

Schemes have been heavily in deficit since the summer of 2011, mainly due to the government's policy of quantitative easing.

This has cut the returns on investing in government bonds, and raised the estimated cost of paying for current and future pensions.

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