Updated Tuesday 31 October 2023
The 2023 valuation for USS is underway, a process that is designed to assess how much money a pension scheme has and whether this is enough to pay the benefits that have been promised to its members. You can learn more about what a valuation involves on our explanatory page.
Alongside our partners, we will continue to strongly advocate for our staff throughout this process.
UCU and UUK issued a joint statement [pdf] in October 2023 which anticipates a reduction in both employee and employer contributions, as well as the restoration of benefits to pre-April 2022 levels. This statement included an agreement by UCU and UUK to make a formal request for this reduction to be implemented from 1 January 2024. This will be subject to formal agreement by the national Joint Negotiating Committee.
Augmentation of past benefits
In October 2023 we responded to a request from UUK for comment on the UUK/UCU joint statement on augmentation. In our response [pdf], we supported the approach to augmenting past benefits set out in the statement, as well as pressing for an earlier reduction in employee and employer contribution rates.
Technical provisions consultation
In July 2023 we responded to a UUK consultation on the USS Trustee’s proposed assumptions for the scheme’s technical provisions in relation to the 2023 valuation. In our response we supported reducing employee and employer contributions earlier than April 2024. You can read our response [pdf], which was shaped by discussions with our USS Staff Working Group.
Conditional Indexation consultation
Additionally, UUK have launched a review into the governance of the USS pension scheme. The review was one of the commitments made by UUK at the conclusion of the 2020 valuation, and it seeks to assess the structure and governance of the scheme in the long-term rather than specific changes to contributions or benefits, which will be reviewed as part of the 2023 valuation.
UUK have now published their proposed approach to this review [pdf]. The College was been asked to submit an initial response to this proposal, including its scope, terms of reference and structure. You can read our response [pdf], which was submitted in August 2022.
The College understands the strength of feeling amongst members in relation to USS and how the 2020 valuation was managed. Whilst the early indications of the 2023 are more positive, we remain clear in terms of our long-term position on the scheme:
The USS pension scheme needs a more sustainable footing
Although the 2023 valuation may show that the scheme is in a stronger position than in 2020, there is a need for long-term scheme reform. This includes the aforementioned governance review, as well as the creation of a working party to explore the feasibility and promise of alternative approaches that will provide long-term stability and viability.
Maintaining a hybrid scheme is key
We will continue to strongly argue for both a Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution component. We also believe this should include a lower cost, more flexible alternative as part of USS to give members a more attractive, affordable, and sustainable option.