Earlier in the year, the USS pension scheme, which many of you are members of, was at the centre of significant industrial action. At the heart of the dispute was disagreement about how the scheme remains sustainable, based upon the latest valuation.
Since then, good progress has been made to find a resolution to the dispute and to ensure that a good and affordable pension can be provided.
In early summer, Universities UK (UUK)
and University and College Union (UCU)
set up a Joint Expert Panel
(JEP) to review the scheme’s valuation method. The JEP’s report has now been published along with recommendations. Were the recommendations of the JEP to be accepted in full, member contributions would rise to an indicative level of 9.1%, and employer contributions would rise to an indicative level of 20.1%. The employer’s 1% matched contribution would end from 1 April 2019.
In an employer consultation conducted by UUK, Royal Holloway has confirmed that we would be prepared to accept employer contributions at this level and I have shared this response with local UCU branch representatives.
To demonstrate our resolve to bring this matter to a close, a joint statement on our overall response to the Joint Expert Panel
has been published, as follows: ‘Professor Paul Layzell, Principal, Royal Holloway and Chris Howorth, UCU Branch Secretary, have jointly welcomed the Joint Expert Panel’s first report on the USS 2017 pension valuation and its proposals on cost sharing provisions. Recognising that the industrial action which led to the formation of the JEP was a bruising and unusual episode in the history of university employment relations, the report has now created consensus. Although the cost sharing proposal represents increased costs for members and employers, there is agreement that it offers a practical route forward. Both the Pension Regulator and USS must now consider the recommendations, meaning there is still some way to go to fully resolve the 2017 valuation. The College and the local branch of UCU are committed to working together and in support of their respective representative bodies to maintain the momentum behind the JEP’s report. We look forward to the JEP’s second report which will look at the scheme’s long-term stability so that a positive outcome can be achieved in a timely fashion.’
Professor Paul Layzell