As a matter of urgency, please read [this revealing article] published in the Financial Times over the weekend.
When you get to the FT website, you can log into Leeds’ institutional subscription for access using your @leeds.ac.uk email address.
This article contains evidence (now in the public domain) that USS has misrepresented the position of the Pensions Regulator regarding calculations of risk and that it failed to address this misrepresentation when asked. This was at a crucial time while Universities UK the employers’ representative body) were consulting with member institutions over proposed assumptions for the 2018 USS valuation.
USS was already under investigation by two regulators after one of its trustees, Professor Jane Hutton (appointed by UCU), turned whistleblower: she accused the Trustee Chair and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, David Eastwood, of withholding crucial information from her. See [here].
We now know that Eastwood was a recipient of the email sent from the Pensions Regulator to USS in January. It is notable that Josephine Cumbo shared an excerpt of this email on [Twitter] which says that the Pensions Regulator were planning to copy this communication to Universities UK. UCU are concerned that it would thus appear that our employers’ representative body appear to be implicated in a cover-up of this email, which has never been shared with us (despite repeated formal requests).
We will write again soon with more detail of the rapidly developing situation with our USS pension scheme. In the meantime here is a brief recap of where we are:
USS has refused to implement the recommendations
of the Joint Expert Panel (JEP), to which UCU and Universities UK had signed up
in full. Instead they proffered three options, none of which upheld the JEP
recommendations and none of which are acceptable to UCU. The employers’ body
UUK has announced its support for “Option 3” which
would force members to increase pension contributions to 9.6% of
salary from October 2019, and 11% after 2020.
UCU has sent dispute letters to each USS employer, with a deadline of 19 June to respond to avert the need for us to head into industrial action. Read more, including the dispute letter [here].
There is still time for our employers to do the right thing.
The revelations over the weekend about the behaviour of the USS executive and board throw all of this into even sharper relief. There is still time for our employers to act, to stand with UCU in defence of our USS pension scheme. UCU has made it clear that we have run out of patience. If our employers do not act with us to confront an organisation currently headed by those who have demonstrated they cannot be trusted to act in USS members’ interests or to act transparently, we will have to take action against our employers.
Let’s hope our employers listen. UCU remain committed to defending the best possible version of USS for all members of the scheme, and to combatting misinformation and faulty methodology.
Vicky and Committee