Petition update

A positive step?

Giulia Piccolino
Leicester, ENG, United Kingdom

Mar 25, 2018 — Dear all,
a few days ago, UUK has agreed a proposal to be put to UCU members, which includes the following points:
• A joint expert panel, comprised of actuarial and academic experts nominated in equal numbers from both sides will be commissioned to deliver a report. Its task will be to agree key principles to underpin the future joint approach of UUK and UCU to the valuation of the USS fund. This will require the status quo both in terms of contributions into USS and current pension benefits, until at least April 2019.
• A jointly agreed chair whose first step will be to oversee the agreement of the terms of reference, the order of work and timescales with the parties. Any recommendations by the group must be based on a majority view of the panel without the use of a casting vote. A secretariat, jointly agreed by the parties, will be appointed.
• The panel will focus in particular on reviewing the basis of the scheme valuation, assumptions and associated tests. It will take into account the unique nature of the HE sector, inter-generational fairness and equality considerations, the need to strike a fair balance between ensuring stability and risk.
• Recognising that staff highly value defined benefit provision, the work of the group will reflect the clear wish of staff to have a guaranteed pension comparable with current provision whilst meeting the affordability challenges for all parties, within the current regulatory framework.
• The panel will make an assessment of the valuation. If in the light of that contributions or benefits need to be adjusted in either direction, both parties are committed to agree to recommend to the joint negotiating committee (JNC) and the trustee, measures aimed at stabilising the fund to provide a guaranteed pension broadly comparable with current arrangements.
• Alongside the work of the panel both sides agree to continue discussion on the following areas: comparability between Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) and USS; alternative scheme design options; the role of government in relation to USS; and the reform of negotiating processes to allow for more constructive dialogue as early as possible in the valuation process.
While this seems a positive step, there are still a lot of doubts about how it was agreed and what exactly it will entail. Many of us have lost any confidence in UUK and think that a change in the current leadership is necessary for a true agreement to be reached.
I will keep you up to date.

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