Dear Colleagues,

We realise that this is the 26th message we have sent on the pension situation. Nevertheless, we thought it would be useful to summarise where we are at present. While the complexity of the pension valuation can get mired in detail, we strive to explain the situation as succinctly as possible.

We wish to be clear that we are committed to advocating strongly for you and to working with you on remuneration that is sustainable, equitable and fair.

The 2018 valuation has now been finalised in line with Option 3 which we supported as the least worst option available. This means total contributions rates will be 21.1% for employers, and 9.6% for members, starting 1 October 2019. 

This valuation means we have avoided the higher contribution rates that would have been required under the previously agreed 2017 valuation. While the national organisations involved in the 2018 dispute were locked in negotiations we were the first to call for a Joint Expert Panel (JEP) to look closely at the valuation work and provide an independent, evidence-based view on the way forward. The JEP will publish its second report in the Autumn to inform the valuation planned by USS for March 2020. This will be crucial to determining the future of the scheme.

UCU are opposed to the 2018 valuation and are currently undertaking local ballots for strike action and action short of strike on the grounds of ‘no detriment’. During negotiations, UUK proposed (subject to employer agreement) to increase employer contributions by 0.5% to reduce employee conditions to 9.1% if the 2019 strike action was called off. UCU national negotiators did not accept this proposal.

As part of the overall remuneration scheme, following our Pay and Benefits Review last year we implemented a 3% annual pay settlement with an additional £3m investment in the research and education pay scale. This year we implemented an option preferred by two out of three of our unions for £1,080 across all salary scales plus an uplift for contractor workers. This equates to a 5.27% increase for those on our starting salary of £20,490 and above CPIH inflation rises for all staff earning up to £60,000.

We will continue to advocate for, and support staff throughout the pension negotiations, keeping you up-to-date as the situation develops, and listening to your concerns. In addition to calling for the JEP and encouraging our own experts to provide evidence we have written to the Pensions Regulator and the USS Trustee to urge them to listen to the JEP, to be transparent in their actions and decisions and to act in the best interests of our community.

You can find a more detailed explanation of the USS pension dispute and our actions on our webpages.

Best wishes,

Alice and Ian

Professor Alice P. Gast, President

Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost