Building materials company Hanson is the latest construction sector firm to be hit by the pension crisis. It has revealed that its scheme has a shortfall of £121m.
The group is to make a one-off £100m contribution to the fund over the next two years. The money will be injected in stages, with the timing subject to discussions with trustees.

Corporate development director Justin Read said: "It is an important issue for us like any company. It needs to be monitored. We need to see what we can do to get more clarity in our funding [of pensions]."

Higher pension costs of £25m for the half year to June contributed to a fall in pre-tax profit, which slipped £25m to £120.6m. Turnover for the period dropped by £24m to £1.81bn.

The group also blamed bad weather in America and adverse exchange rates for its reduced profit.

In the UK, the firm's aggregates operations were hit by a decline in demand after the introduction of an aggregates levy. However, this was offset by Hanson's UK building products division, which was buoyed by more housing work.

Read said that the market was beginning to change in response to the levy.

He said: "There probably are some people starting to engineer out some of the lower value products and substituting them for other recycled products. We need to reconfigure some of our quarries to change the product output."

Read said the firm was increasingly relying on public sector work in the UK. He said: "It is helping to offset the weakness in the commercial sector, but we would like to see a bit more consistency in the spend by the government."