Royal Opera House pension deficit more than doubled last year

According to its newest accounts, for the year to 28 August 2016, the pension liability went up from £16.9m to £35.7m

Royal Opera House
Royal Opera House

The pension deficit of the Royal Opera House more than doubled to almost £36m last year, the charity’s latest accounts show.

In its accounts for the year to 28 August 2016, which were posted on the Companies House website on Sunday, the ROH’s pension liability is listed as £35.7m, compared with £16.9m for the previous year.

The charity said a change in accounting requirements was among the reasons for the large rise in the deficit.

The charity’s defined-benefit pension scheme closed to future accrual on 31 March 2016 and it made £1.5m in contributions to the scheme during the year covered by the accounts.

More than £2.6m was also contributed by the ROH to five other defined-contribution pension schemes.

The charity agreed to reduce its exposure to future pension risk by freezing pensionable salary for any pension accrued after 30 April 2013, the accounts say.

A spokeswoman for the ROH said: "During the 2015/16 year, the Royal Opera House’s defined-benefit scheme was closed to future accrual. The deficit repayments are being managed with the scheme trustees.

"Another reason for the increase is the changes resulting from FRS102, an accounting change that we have had to reflect in our accounts this year, like other charities."

FRS102, which applies to accounting periods starting on or after 1 January 2015, has introduced a number of changes to the reporting of pension liabilities in accounts that have led to increases in reported pension liabilities for many charities.

The ROH accounts show that five senior employees earned more than £183,000 in the year covered by the accounts.

Sir Antonio Pappano, music director at the ROH, earned a basic salary of £115,301 and fees of £569,099, so he received £684,400 from the charity during the year.

But this was a reduction on the £737,424 he received the year before.

The other four people on salaries of more than £183,000 were Alexander Beard, chief executive of the ROH, who was paid £260,139; Sally O’Neill, chief operating officer, who received £187,262; Kevin O’Hare, director of the Royal Ballet, who was paid £183,423; and Kasper Holten, director of opera, who was paid a total of £253,205.

The spokeswoman for the ROH said the pay for senior staff reflected the "international market" and the fees paid to Pappano were for his conducting engagements with the Royal Opera, which varied from year to year.

The accounts show that the ROH’s total income was £139m for the year, compared with £145m the previous year. Its Arts Council England funding fell by 5 per cent from April 2015 for a three-year period.

The ROH spent £134m, compared with £126m the year before, the accounts show.

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