Three pension tales: BT, Royal Mail and Trinity Mirror

BT's vast pension fund, with liabilities greater than £40bn, has been a great millstone for the company.

So the company's owners will be relieved that in the three-yearly valuation, the deficit between assets and those liabilities has more than halved from £9bn to £4.1bn.

Also BT is accelerating payments to fill the gap - by paying £2bn into it before the end of the month and will then make a further nine annual payments of £325m.

If all goes well, this should see the scheme - on which hundreds of thousands of current and past staff are dependent for their pensions - back to health four years earlier than planned.

There is quite a lot going on in the fraught world of final salary pensions.

The sister scheme of the BT one, the Royal Mail scheme, isn't being privatised along with Royal Mail itself. Its £28bn of assets and £37.5bn of liabilities are being transferred in the current tax year away from the company and squarely into the public sector.

So in the case of Royal Mail, the burden of filling a painful £9.5bn gap between the value of its assets and liabilities will now fall explicitly on taxpayers, and not on Royal Mail's customers and employees - which provides additional comfort for Royal Mail's current and future pensioners, but is yet another de facto debt on the strained and stretched public-sector balance sheet.

If those vast numbers of people dependent for their retirement income on the BT and Royal Mail schemes are feeling a bit more relaxed today, the same can't be said for members of Trinity Mirror's pension schemes.

As part of negotiations with banks to secure new borrowing facilities, Trinity Mirror's management reached agreement with trustees of its pension schemes "to reduce deficit funding payments for 2012, 2013 and 2014 to £10 million per annum, before reverting to normalised funding payments of some £33 million per annum from 2015" (according to the company's recent release).

In effect the newspaper group's pension scheme and its members are lending to the company, to help it through a period of intense industrial challenge.

The Pensions Regulator has not yet approved this cut in Trinity Mirror's reduced contributions to the scheme. It will be fascinating to see if the regulator agrees that it is in the best interests of Trinity Mirror's current and future pensioners for them to take on more risk to help its sponsoring company through these challenging times.