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£3m university pension payouts prompt fresh call for all-member ballot on reduced benefit plans

23 August 2010 | last updated: 11 December 2015

Seventy-one investment staff at the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) shared bonus payments of £2.89m in the year to the end of March 2010. The USS board recently voted to remove a final-salary pension scheme for new entrants and to raise the retirement age because of apparent financial problems.

UCU today said the revelations of the £40,000 average bonus payout would raise further questions from staff being asked to increase their pension contributions and accept reduced benefits at a time when the fund's value had increased by billions.

The union said the bonus payout revelations increased the need for a ballot of all USS members to ensure the scheme retained some legitimacy following damaging revelations earlier this year that taxpayers' money had been used by the employers to fund a PR campaign.
 
The union says it has always recognised some changes are needed in order to ensure the stability of the pension fund. However, it said it does not believe 'draconian' proposals from the employers to force new entrants onto a career-average earning scheme are required, or that the bonus revelations have helped the USS board's case.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The bonus payout revelations have increased the need for a proper consultation on proposed changes to the pension scheme. There are serious questions to be asked about the need for such draconian changes and, if the scheme is to retain any legitimacy, then there must be a ballot of all USS members.
 
'We believe plans to create a two-tier pension system would damage recruitment and retention of university staff and lead, inevitably, to further attempts to reduce benefits for existing staff to the lowest common denominator.'
 
In a consultation in May, 96% of UCU members who voted, opted to reject the employers' proposed changes, with a similar number backing UCU's alternative proposals to share costs between employers and staff.

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