The Pension Protection Fund says little progress has been made in closing a total £222bn deficit on UK defined benefit schemes, with many schemes “just treading water”.

In its latest data on the trends in DB pension schemes, the PPF says the deficit across 5,794 schemes feel slightly from £244.2bn at the end of March 2015 to £221.7bn a year later.

Asset allocation has changed to reflect schemes wanting to derisk, with allocation to bonds rising to over 50 per cent for the first time. Equity investments have fallen from 33 per cent to 30 per cent in the year to March.

PPF chief financial officer Andrew McKinnon says: “2016 has been an interesting year for DB pensions. While scheme funding remained largely stable in the year to March, there have been large swings in funding since June.

“When we look back at what progress schemes have made over the last decade it appears many schemes are just treading water. The average recovery plan length, at around eight years, has barely improved, which brings home the challenge we now face.”