Letter to UUK & UCU on 22 February 2018


The Principal has written to UUK and UCU encouraging further discussion. You can read below the text from his letter.

Like many Principals and Vice-Chancellors, I have received a high level of communication from my staff and students about the reforms to USS.

While we may differ on how reforms to USS might be achieved, I believe colleagues at Royal Holloway, University of London, are united about the need to find a sustainable approach that will offer the best possible pension provision for members who are at the start of their career, as well as for members coming towards the end of their career. From the employer's perspective, I seek to ensure provision that is affordable to both colleagues and employers, and acceptable to the Pensions Regulator.

A number of concerns have been raised with me and I would welcome UUK and UCU engaging in further meaningful talks around the following points.

First, would be discussion of alternative models for risk sharing in order to provide greater certainty about retirement benefits to USS members.

Second, how deficit recovery contributions can be kept as low as possible, so that the greatest possible proportion of employer and employee contributions support future benefits.

Third, engagement with all stakeholders on scheme valuation methods.

Fourth, in relation to scheme affordability, I welcome the lower cost 4% contribution rate in the current proposals. Perhaps discussions could include how this could work in practice to allow members more choice to change the balance of pay and pensions over time.

Finally, if the proposed arrangements are implemented, it will be essential that there are strong assurances to members about the conditions and mechanisms that would see the future re-introduction of meaningful defined benefit pension accrual if economic and funding conditions improve, taking advantage of the flexibility of the hybrid model.

I recognise that there is very limited time available to comply with the formal requirements of the Pension Regulator's timetable for settling the pension deficit. Nonetheless, I would welcome any opportunity the two parties could find to discuss these issues.