Important developments on the USS pension scheme.
See the latest pensions news for information on UCU's campaign on the valuation of USS and scheme changes:
UCU campaign on USS technical provisions
In advance of USS valuation in 2017, UCU has asked all pre-92 universities to engage with their employer on the technical provisions and report back to firstname.lastname@example.org
See more in circular UCUHE260.
2016 changes in USS
April 2016 brought changes to USS as it start the move to a hybrid scheme. USS has a dedicate website https://forthefuture.uss.co.uk which provides calculators and information on the changes coming through.
Basically the pension contributions will go up to 8% for employees and 18% for employers.
Pre 2011 members without break of 30 months. From 31 March 2016 your pension will be closed and your final average salary will be worked out. The pension will increase in line with CPI with caps going forward.
CRB pension. All members on 1 April 2016 moved into the new CRB scheme which will have 1/75th accrual rate revalued by CPI with caps. There will be a lump sum which will be 3 times the annual pension. All earnings will count until 31 August 2016.
On 1 October the defined contribution element of the hybrid scheme will come into play. Those members who earn above £55k will have their defined benefit element capped. The salary above £55k will be treated differently and the employees 8% and the employers 12% will be paid into a select fund or funds.
In addition all members will have the option to pay an extra 1% and have this matched by the employer into the defined contribution fund after 1 October 2016.
The CRB is tied to future state pension age.
The rest of the pension benefits remain roughly the same.
Changes in the scheme
It will not be possible to transfer your fund in or out of the scheme under the Public Sector Transfer Clubs. The USS website gives the transitional details.
There will only be payment into the defined contribution section to improve your pension position.
Defined contribution element
At this time there is little information. However the scheme is actively planning for a selection of funds to be able to offer members and hopes from July to enable members' to make selection which funds they wish their money invested in.
Additional voluntary contribution (AVC) changes
Members with AVC contracts will be aware of the significant changes due to come into effect in April. Since AVC agreements are individual contracts between a USS member and the trustee, there may be circumstances in which a member may wish to bring a complaint against the trustee. UCU has prepared guidance on how to do so here.
USS holds statutory consultation
The member and eligible member statutory consultation period regarding the proposed changes to USS ended on 22 May 2015. UCU sent a formal response to the consultation. USS trustees are now reviewing the responses and any proposals will be referred to the Joint Negotiation Committee (JNC).
UCU members vote to accept new pension proposals
26 January 2015: UCU members have voted to accept new proposals for their pensions and not restart a marking and assessment boycott at 69 UK institutions. Two-thirds (67.1%) of those who voted agreed to accept the new proposals.
Action suspended to allow member vote
14 January 2015: Action which was due to resume on Friday 16 January is suspended while the union consults members on a new offer from the employers.
Boycott suspension nears end
8 January 2015: UCU branches have been asked to prepare to resume the action, currently suspended to allow talks, on 16 January. A special Higher Education Committee meeting will be held on 14 January to allow negotiators to report back on the talks. Universities have also been issued with notices warning that the action may be restarted.
Assessment boycott to start on 6 November
27 October 2014: After talks between UCU and the employers' representatives failed to provide a guarantee that the employers were making any effort to protect USS pensions, UCU announced that an assessment boycott will begin on Thursday 6 November.
Members vote for action
20 October 2014: UCU members have overwhelmingly backed plans for industrial action in defence of their USS pensions. UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'UCU members at universities across the UK have made it quite clear today that they reject the radical changes being proposed for their pensions. We will go into talks on Wednesday hopeful that we can resolve the current impasse.'
Exam and coursework boycott threat
29 September 2014: Staff would see tens of thousands of pounds a year wiped off their pensions if proposals made by Universities UK (UUK) were introduced, warns a report released on 29 September.
The report by First Actuarial for UCU warns that some staff would lose over £200,000 from their pensions if the radical proposals were implemented. See:
- First Actuarial report to UCU: Universities Superannuation Scheme – benefit illustrations, Sep 14 [1Mb] (opens in a new window)
- Union threatens exam and coursework boycott as staff warned they will lose tens of thousands of pounds from their pensions
23 September 2014: UCU general secretary Sally Hunt has today written to all members in USS institutions to confirm an industrial action ballot will be launched on 1 October after detrimental proposals to alter USS were tabled.
18 July 2014: It is expected that this week the employers will receive a consultation document from UUK, acting as the conduit between the USS board and employers, outlining a proposed approach to the USS pension fund deficit, including an option for a change to scheme design. Between 18 and 25 July, a series of briefings for relevant branches are taking place.
You can find a UCU briefing on the issues here (UCUHE225).
A decision-making meeting, where a report and recommendations from negotiators can be discussed, will be held on 18 September 2014 for USS branches.
July 2014: In line with sector conference motion HE10 recommendation 4, briefings have been scheduled to provide further information on the future of the scheme and update branches on discussions with USS and the employers. These will take place in July 2014.
USS: Report to HE Sector Conference
May 2014: Information was circulated UCU to branches and delegates to HE Sector Conference 2014 (UCUHE22) which provided an update on USS on meetings concerning the future of the USS pension scheme, and which set-out UCU's negotiating objectives. This report was considered with sector conference motion HE10 which was subsequently carried.
USS annual statement
November 2013: USS scheme members should have received a statement from USS explaining that the fund has reported a deficit. There was some coverage of this on BBC Newsnight. For your information, please find below that statement agreed by the UCU and the employers:
Employer and UCU joint statement regarding USS funding position
USS is not alone in having to deal with funding issues and volatility of this kind; similar issues are facing other defined benefit schemes throughout the UK.
A joint funding and benefits group, comprising employer representatives and the UCU (as representative under the USS rules for all scheme members) was established in 2012. This group's remit includes the need to take account of the funding position of USS and our objective is to secure an attractive, affordable and sustainable scheme for members and employers in the long term.
Through this group the process is already under way for discussions between the employers and the UCU and discussions are expected to run up to and beyond the March 2014 triennial valuation.
All options remain under discussion and it is too early to be drawn on what the parties will believe to be the right plan for the scheme for the long term.
31 January 2013: The joint working group of employers and UCU have undertaken a comparison of USS CRB scheme with the proposed heads of agreement with Teachers Pensions CARE due to come in April 2015. Different career paths have been modelled to provide an insight into the differences: