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USS Pension Reform following 2017 Valuation

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USS valuation: Joint Expert Panel publishes its report

The Joint Expert Panel (JEP) has published its report about the 2017 USS pension valuation. 

An executive summary and the full report are published on the JEP website.

The JEP was set up to examine the valuation of USS and was tasked with agreeing key principles to underpin the future approach of the University and College Union (UCU) and Universities UK (UUK) to the USS valuation. 

Alongside but separate to this JEP process, the USS trustee consultation with members and eligible employees about the proposals for implementing the cost sharing rule continues until 2 November. Visit the USS employers website to find out more about why these two processes have to run at the same time. To submit your response to the consultation, visit the consultation website

Find other related news on the USS Pension Updates panel on this page. 

Your consultation pack

USS members should have received a named, printed copy of the USS consultation pack at their place of work. Eligible employees and representatives should have received a copy, too. The pack explains how to submit your opinions into the consultation and we encourage you to do so. If you have checked your internal post and believe your copy has not been delivered then please email Pensions team.

Book your place on an information session

Pensions experts, Mercer, will be holding open information sessions on Thursday 20 September to explain more about the cost-sharing implementation proposals and anticipated next steps in the 2017 valuation process. The Vice Chancellor will join Mercer in both sessions and will be on hand to answer questions. 

Spaces are limited, so to book your place, email Pensions team with your preferred session (1 or 2) in the email subject title: 

Session 1 (11:30 – 1pm)             Session 2 (3:30 – 5pm)

Both sessions will be hosted in Worsley Medical lecture theatre, room 7.35 on level 7 of Worsley building, near the airport lounge. 

Questions

Visit USS website to find the answers to key questions, such as: 

  • Why cost sharing? The law, the scheme rules, the timescales, the cost
  • What happens next? 

The cost of USS pension 

  • HE employer pensions contributions are high, with USS scheme among the highest, even before the costs sharing rule increases costs further.
  • At Leeds, this currently amounts to £49.9m p.a. total employer pensions costs: £34.2m on USS and £15.7m on other schemes. After the cost sharing rule is fully implemented (according to USS proposals which are subject to consultation), the employer costs of USS at Leeds are expected to increase by £13.1m to £47.3m p.a. 


University of Leeds position on USS pension reform

  • While we recognise that the prospect of pension reform will naturally concern colleagues, we do believe that reform is necessary. 
  • It’s important for us to have a pension scheme which is valued, sustainable, stable, portable and fair:
    • Valued: so we can recruit, reward and retain very good people.  
    • Sustainable: so the scheme continues to be affordable and secure for individuals and employers.
    • Stable: so there’s confidence in the scheme.
    • Portable: so it helps colleagues move freely around the sector to develop their careers.
    • Fair: so the scheme considers and acts on behalf of all members, regardless of age or career stage. 


What has happened so far

Below is a chronological history of the 2017 valuation process. You can also view USS's visual overview of 'The 2017 valuation story so far' (published 25 July 2018) 

  • Universities UK (UUK, on behalf of employers) and the University and College Union (UCU, on behalf of employees) are equally represented on the USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC). The JNC is responsible for making a decision about how the scheme should be structured in future, often referred to as ‘pension reform’. This decision was due by 18 December 2017 in order to meet statutory requirements, but on 19 December, the decision was deferred until 23 January 2018.
  • Any JNC-agreed changes to member benefits or contributions necessitate a full consultation with scheme members and other affected employees in spring 2018.
  • Changes would apply only to ‘future benefits’ i.e. benefits which are yet to be accrued. Members’ benefits which have been built-up to date and before any contribution/benefit changes are implemented are protected by law.
  • In autumn 2017, UUK consulted with university employers about the valuation. The University of Leeds’ governing body (the Council) reluctantly concluded that significant change was needed to the existing scheme. That view was consistent with that of the majority that contributed. While the situation has developed significantly since that date, the University's response, consisting of a questionnaire and covering letter, can be read here
  • UUK subsequently made a proposal to JNC, based on the consultation and on behalf of employers nationally, that:
    • future benefits would be delivered by USS Investment Builder, i.e. a defined contribution (DC) scheme, while keeping open the option of returning to defined benefits (DB) or a hybrid model should the financial outlook improve;
    • death and incapacity benefits would continue on a defined basis as they are now (i.e. scheme members would be assured a specific level of benefit) so that employers would continue to provide protection in the most difficult of circumstances.
  • UCU opened a ballot for industrial action. 
  • UCU tabled its own proposal and UUK has commented.
  • UCU announced industrial action
  • At its meeting on 23 January 2018, the USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) reached a decision about scheme reform, by the casting vote of its independent chair, in support of a revised proposal from Universities UK (UUK).
  • According to USS, the JNC’s decision results in an estimated funding deficit of £6.1 billion, which means the scheme is 91% funded.
  • UUK wrote an open letter to USS pension scheme members.
  • USS members due to receive individual consultation packs by 16 March, ahead of consultation opening from 19 March 2018.
  • 13 March: Via Acas talks, UUK and UCU agreed a revised proposal, to be considered by their members and the JNC. Member consultation on the existing proposal temporarily suspended by the USS Trustee. UCU branches rejected revised proposal.
  • 23 March: UUK and UCU announce a proposal to establish a joint expert panel to consider the valuation of the USS. This proposal was put to UCU members in a consultative ballot.
  • 13 April: UCU members voted to accept the proposal and suspend industrial action.
  • 27 April: The JNC revoked the 23 January proposal.
  • 3 May: USS Trustee issued update confirming that the consultative member ballot about the 23 January proposal is no longer needed (since the proposal has been revoked) and that plans must progress to invoke 'cost-sharing' rules 76.4-8.
  • 18 May: UCU and UUK announced Joanne Segars OBE as Chair of the USS Joint Expert Panel (JEP).
  • 22 May: UCU announced its JEP members.
  • 25 May: UUK announced its JEP members.
  • June - July: The JEP held its first seven meetings. Published updates from those meetings are accessible via the 'USS Pension Updates' panel on this page and on the UUK website.  
  • 25 July: USS shared detail about how the 'cost sharing' rule will affect members.
  • August - September: The JEP held further meetings. Published updates from those meetings are accessible via the 'USS Pension Updates' panel on this page and on the UUK website.  
  • 3 September: USS opens member consultation about implementation of the cost sharing rule 76.4-8

USS Pension Updates

USS valuation: Joint Expert Panel publishes its report

The Joint Expert Panel (JEP) has published its report about the 2017 USS pension valuation.

USS Pension: Joint Expert Panel meeting (9 and 10)

The ninth and tenth meetings of the Panel took place on 29 August and 3 September and an update from those meetings is now available.

USS pension: cost sharing consultation open

USS consultation open until 2 November; book your place on an information session.

USS Pension: Joint Expert Panel meeting (8)

The eighth meeting of the Panel took place on 6 August and an update from that meeting is now available.

USS Pension: Joint Expert Panel meeting (7)

The seventh meeting of the Panel took place on 23 July and an update from that meeting is now available.

Browse USS Pension Reform following 2017 Valuation by date

Find out more

The University is committed to making information available to staff members when it can, including member updates and publications, and we will update this page as matters develop.

In the meantime, further information can be found online via the following links to the USS and UUK websites and through the monthly USS member eNewsletter, which is circulated to relevant staff at the University. 

Related links:

University of Leeds:

USS (runs the pension scheme):

UUK (represents employers):