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UCU ballots members on changes to USS

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The University has received notification from the University and College Union (UCU) that it intends to ballot its members for industrial action concerning proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). The ballot will close on 20 October 2014.

It is always disappointing to receive such notification, not least in this instance since employer representatives have not submitted a formal proposal to the USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC), a committee of which the UCU has equal membership. Indeed, the approach to addressing this deficit is still being developed following the recent consultation with participating employers. 

Once a formal proposal has been formally discussed by the JNC later in the year, we, as your employer, will consult all members of the USS on any changes before the final decision is made. Your views in that consultation will be taken into account by the JNC and the USS trustees before any final decision is made.

Changes to the USS are unavoidable to address the substantial deficit in the scheme and to mitigate the risk that contribution rates will become unaffordable for both employees and employers. At the last triennial valuation of the USS, in March 2011, the scheme had a sizeable deficit (i.e. the difference between the scheme's assets and the value of the benefits for which it is liable) of £2.9 billion. In March 2013, this deficit was £11.5 billion and it is expected to be around £8 billion as at March 2014.

This is not a cost-reduction exercise for the University; even with the potential changes to pensions being explored, the employer contributions to USS on your behalf are expected to increase above the current level of 16% of salary.

USS remains an excellent pension scheme and the task of all the parties involved in the negotiations is to ensure that the necessary reforms to the benefit structure are agreed, while delivering an attractive, affordable and sustainable scheme for future and current employees and employers.  With any future changes, the accrued benefits for staff will be protected - staff will not lose the pension that they have already built up. And post reform, the USS will remain one of the strongest pension schemes in the public sector.

Members of the USS will quite properly wish to be fully informed about the future of the scheme. More information on the possible changes which are currently being discussed can be found here www.employerspensionsforum.co.uk.

 

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