This page will present information and links concerning the dispute over the future of USS (Universities Superannuation Scheme) pensions. The latest updates from the local branch committee on the USS pensions dispute are available below, in chronological order with the most recent first.
Where things stand: 2021
UCU is calling on employers in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) to join it in demanding a change of approach to the ongoing 2020 valuation of the pension scheme.
In February 2021, UCU negotiator Sam Marsh released a series of videos explaining the flaw in the current valuation and demonstrating how badly wrong all previous valuations had been: A reality check, Prudence in the 2020 USS valuation, and An explanation of prudence discrepancies in the 2020 USS valuation.
In September 2020, the USS began consulting with employers on the ‘technical provisions’ (the theoretical size of the pension promises accrued). UCU expressed we had no confidence in the ‘needlessly cautious’ approach taken by the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) in its valuation of the pension scheme.
We called off our strike in 2018 on the promise of a Joint Expert Panel (JEP) being established to look at how the pension scheme operated. The JEP made seven recommendations, and both the employers and the UCU accepted these recommendations. Once implemented, these would imply a total contribution rate of 26% for both employers and employees, allowing members’ contributions to return to the 8% rate. The USS refused to implement these recommendations, and has offered no clear explanation why they will not. When USS tried to imply that the Pensions Regulator used a specific manner of measuring the strength of the Universities’ covenant (their ability to pay long-term), the Regulator publicly refuted this claim.
The current UCU position is still one of no detriment – our contributions rates should not rise, and our benefits in retirement should not go down. We argue that if further contributions have to be made, then the employers should foot the bill.
Links to UCU policy and further commentary
- UCU ‘Action for USS’ page
- USSbriefs reports are excellent investigations and summaries of pension and related issues (from group of UCU members who came together to produce helpful materials about pensions and related issues). Their most recent summary from March 2020 is here.
- First report from the Join Expert Panel, September 2018 (it has an executive summary if you are short of time)
- The University of Leeds pages on this issue
Latest branch news on pensions
As pensions are negotiated nationally, most pensions updates will be from the union nationally.