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An important message about the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)

04 Nov 2014

Colleagues will be aware that a valuation is currently underway of the USS pension scheme

USS logo

The Trustee of a pension fund is legally required to carry out a formal valuation every three years and to provide a report to the Pensions Regulator of its funding position. In USS’ case the valuation date is 31 March 2014 and the trustee is obliged to complete the valuation no later than 15 months later – in USS’ case by 30 June 2015. The Trustee of USS is made up of Universities UK (UUK) nominees, University and College Union (UCU) nominees and up to five independent appointees. A full list of board members is available at:

Whilst the valuation process is not yet complete, it is clear that the deficit in the pension fund that USS will report will be substantially larger than was last reported in 2011 (£2.9 billion). This will, inevitably, lead to changes in the scheme, as required by the Pensions Regulator, in order to ensure it is affordable and sustainable. These changes will be difficult for all scheme members and the University is very conscious of both the importance of the scheme to colleagues and their legitimate concerns.

Whilst the governance process of USS is complex, any changes to the benefits structure are required to be negotiated through the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC). This comprises of 5 UUK nominees, 5 UCU nominees and an independent Chair. The current timetable suggests that the earliest the JNC will decide upon changes to benefits will be in January 2015. This would be followed by a legally required 60 day consultation process with all scheme members. Any actual changes to benefits would be effective from April 2016 at the earliest.    

In discussions locally with colleagues from UCU and more widely, the University has been asked to share information about the valuation process as it becomes available. We are very happy to do this. This information is also shared at a national level with UCU who, under the rules of the scheme, represent all scheme members. 

Earlier today, the University received information from UUK – who, under the rules of the scheme represents all the scheme’s employers – of the latest consultation on the assumptions being made in the valuation process (the “technical provisions”). Whilst USS is required under the rules of the scheme to formally consult with UUK, as has previously been the case, it also chooses to share the same information with UCU nationally.

You may download a copy of the actuarial valuation document for information, but you are not required to comment or take any action in response to it at this stage. Please note that this is a long (39 pages) and, inevitably, technical document:

In addition, we will be meeting with local UCU colleagues later this week to answer any questions about the valuation process they may have. We will also be offering some sessions for staff members who want to ask any questions about the valuation of the scheme. 

  

Will Spinks
Registrar, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer

    

Further information about the valuation process