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USS modeller

Find out what UUK's proposed cuts mean for your USS pension

28 May 2021

Members in USS institutions will know from my recent emails that Universities UK (UUK) has asked employers to endorse a package of severe cuts to USS pension benefits.

Employers have been considering these proposals for some time but as far as we are aware, they have not given staff meaningful, personalised information about the financial impact which these cuts could have.

UCU is making up for that information deficit with a modeller developed by our actuarial advisers, First Actuarial. The modeller is open to all staff, including non members of UCU as well as members, and you can access it here.

If you input your date of birth and salary details, you will get an illustration of the benefits you will build up in future under UUK's proposals compared with the current arrangement.

A typical member on a lecturer's salary, aged 37, will suffer a 35% loss to the guaranteed retirement benefits which they will build up over the rest of their career. You can learn more about the implications in our press release.

More information on UUK's proposed changes

This modelling tool is straightforward and there was nothing stopping employers from producing something similar as soon as UUK announced its proposals at the start of April. The truth is that they don't want to be honest with you about the damage which those proposals will do to your retirement benefits.

UUK's changes would affect everyone who is currently in or planning to join USS, and they would particularly impact staff nearer the beginning of their careers - because benefits for past service will not change, whereas benefits for future service will. I urge everyone to use the tool but I particularly urge those of you who are early career staff.

Many of you will see that even under the current arrangements, your expected pension benefits are already lower than you deserve and expect. The truth is that USS benefits have been drastically eroded in the past decade. We have already shown that a typical member is set to be £240,000 worse off as a result of the changes that took place between 2011 and 2019. The current UUK proposals would make things even worse - and they are far from guaranteed to be the last changes you see before you retire.

Complete the survey, strengthen our negotiating position

When you use the tool you will be asked to complete a survey which is open to anyone eligible to join USS - including those who can't currently afford to be in the scheme. One of our negotiators' objectives is to develop proposals for progressive contribution structures that make the scheme more affordable for lower paid staff while giving them the same security regarding their retirement benefits as everyone else. By responding to the survey you will help them to do that and to make further progress in our campaign to defend USS benefits.

The survey also asks UCU members whether they would be willing to take industrial action to force UUK to withdraw its proposals. We are engaged in intensive negotiations, lobbying, and other activities to get the best possible outcome for you at the bargaining table, but we also need to prepare for the possibility of industrial action in the near future. You have defeated similar cuts by taking action in the past and you can do it again. Answering 'Yes' to this question will help your branch and your negotiators show employers how serious you are.

If you have further questions about USS and about our proposals for reforming the scheme and achieving a fair outcome for staff, please consult our recently updated FAQs.

Jo Grady
UCU general secretary

Last updated: 6 May 2022