USS consultation

Dear University of Kent UCU members,

You may be wondering why we now have a consultation over USS which proposes very large increases in contributions, both for employees and employers? What is going on? We hope this email helps explain.

We are currently fighting on two fronts: pay claim (see earlier email) and the USS consultation. In both situations, we are being offered less (pay/pension) while asked to do more (work/contribution). We must be loud and clear on both issues by voting (pay) or answering the consultation (USS).

The joint expert panel (JEP) was set up by UCU and UUK to examine the 2017 USS valuation, as a result of our strong industrial action earlier this year.

The JEP contains experts nominated by both the union and the employer. The JEP is due to release its first report later this month.

Meanwhile, USS last week began a consultation on a staged series of contribution increases for employers and employees that USS say are required to maintain existing benefits. In simple terms, one can view this consultation as primarily in case the JEP fails to reach any agreement.

In that scenario, the pension regulator will want to know what USS would do, and this is the fall-back position (based on current USS rules – that benefits mostly stay the same, but contributions increase to close that contested deficit).

These proposals are based, of course, on the contested 2017 valuation which is now being examined by the JEP. In UCU’s view it would have been better if USS had waited for the JEP to report, since its recommendations are likely to have a considerable influence upon what happens next.

Please find a briefing on the USS consultation which also contains suggestions for how to respond to the questions the consultation poses.

As soon as the JEP does report, we will update you further.

Best wishes,
Owen, Mark and Sian