For Staff

USS Pension Reform following 2017 Valuation

Latest news

The first meeting of the Joint Expert Panel took place on 31 May and an update from that meeting is now available.

Within the update, the Panel issued an invitation for submissions:

"The Panel agreed that initial submissions from stakeholders should be sought on the 2017 valuation and in particular on: the three tests used by USS; the prudence or otherwise of the assumptions used by USS; the strength of the covenant; and alternative valuation models and assumptions to those used by USS.

"Submissions on these matters or comments for the attention of the Panel are warmly welcomed and should be sent to submit@ussjep.org.uk"

The Panel has since held its second and third meetings and we will share updates from those meetings on this page when available. 

Over the summer the Panel is due to meet regularly and to then report on the 2017 valuation in September 2018. 

USS Trustee issued an update on 9 May in relation to the current position on the valuation. 

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

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?

  • 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.

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):

USS Pension Updates

USS Pension: Joint Expert Panel meeting (1)

The first meeting of the Panel took place on 31 May and an update from that meeting is now available.

USS pension: UUK announces its expert panel members

UUK has announced its three nominated members to the USS Joint Expert Panel (JEP).

USS pension: UCU announces its expert panel members

UCU has announced its three nominated members to the USS Joint Expert Panel (JEP).

USS pension: Joint Expert Panel Chair announced

UCU and UUK announce appointment of Chair for USS Joint Expert Panel.

USS pension: next steps in 2017 valuation process

Update from USS which confirms 23 January benefit proposal is revoked and next steps in the 2017 scheme valuation process.

Browse USS Pension Reform following 2017 Valuation by date