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People must realise that many final salary pension schemes will close and make their own debt management arrangements for the future, one expert suggests.

The independent pensions advisor Dr Ros Altmann says the writing has been on the wall for final salary pensions "for some time", with the real turning point coming when the schemes started to close to new members.

She explained: "The truth is that even if the employer can afford to pay money in today, the final salary scheme involves being able to pay money in 50 or 60 years time and no employer can really sign up to that anymore."

Dr Altmann also warns that relying on equities is not realistic and she accuses the government of burying its head in the sand instead of helping employers manage debt management for the future.

Research from Watson Wyatt suggests that half of UK companies with defined benefit pension schemes expect to have closed them to all employees by 2012.

Three-quarters have already closed the schemes to new members.

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