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Two weeks left

November 23, 2010

There are just TWO weeks left to have your say over the future of the USS pension

Pension news:  Value of the USS fund increased by £8.5 billion in the last financial year

According to a recent report from the Pension Protection Fund, UK pension schemes, including USS, are moving back into healthy surplus, giving the lie to employers’ claims that the scheme desperately needs their reforms. The report revealed that the aggregate balance of 6,653 UK defined benefit pension schemes, including USS, had moved from a £20.4 billion deficit at the end of September to a £13.5 billion surplus at 31 October. The rise is chiefly due to the recovery of equity markets. USS accounts reveal that the value of the fund increased by £8.5 billion in the last financial year.  As a result of this continuing improvement, USS is now heading back into surplus and is likely to reach this by the time of the 2011 valuation. This news further undermines the employers’ case for pressing the need for their reform package and makes it imperative that they come back to the table to discuss the future of the scheme anew. As USS is refusing to ballot scheme members, the only way you can make your views know is to vote in UCU’s online referendum.

The University of Leeds also refused to hold a ballot, when this was proposed to management here, and other UCU suggestions have been rejected, though we hope to see some agreed communication shortly. Meanwhile, other Universities have made different responses to their staff’s request for better consultation

  • Strathclyde, Essex and Reading Universities have all agreed with the UCU to send the text below to all USS and potential USS members.
  • The management at Bath has agreed to print on the November payslips: “The consultation process on the proposed changes to USS affecting both current & eligible members ends on 22 December 2010. To understand the proposed changes and participate in the consultation process go to http://www.ussconsultation.co.uk/. These details can also be found on http://tinyurl.com/BathUCU
  • At Cranfield University, HR have agreed that Payroll & Pensions will distribute a letter and leaflet from Cranfield UCU to all USS members.

We hope that our University will soon see fit to emulate these other institutions, and consider the arguments also being presented at Oxford and Cambridge

University of Leeds fails to emulate Oxford & Cambridge on USSOxbridge academics petition governing bodies:

An article in the Guardian today covers the work of UCU branches in Cambridge and Oxford in petitioning their governing bodies to allow a ballot of all USS members. More than 100 academics in Cambridge and more than 200 at Oxford are petitioning their governing bodies this month to hold a ballot on the proposed changes. A motion, or “grace”, from more than 120 Cambridge academics was gathered for submission to the university’s council this week and is being discussed with senior management now. Oxford University’s parliament, or “congregation”, is meeting to discuss the issue at the end of the month. As Cambridge UCU President Dave Goode says: “because, unlike other institutions, both Oxford and Cambridge have systems of governance in which decisions can be made by the whole academic body, they have been able to take the lead in making the views of ordinary pension scheme members felt.”

  • “To register to vote, just email consultation@ucu.org.uk with the subject line ‘Defend USS’ and we will send you a unique link enabling you to do so.” *PLEASE NOTE that only members or eligible members of USS should attempt to vote in this referendum. Remember, the referendum is secured through a link unique to you and your vote will only be counted once. Please do not forward your personal link or you risk your vote not being counted.”
  • · You can read a copy of the PPF report here

Part of the text distributed by management at Strathclyde, Essex and Reading Universities:

First, you will have received an information pack from USS which contained an insert from the employers who are proposing the changes, the Employers Pension Forum. This strongly advocates the employers’ changes as the only way forward for the scheme. For the sake of balance, we would draw your attention to our own commentary on these changes which makes it clear that we believe there are other alternatives that are not being properly considered. You can read the UCU’s commentary here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/q/9/USS_statement2_Oct10.pdf

Second, UCU has tabled its own proposals to reform the USS pension scheme. We believe that our proposals would set the scheme on a sustainable long-term basis and this view is supported by respected actuaries. You can read our proposals here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/d/4/UCU_USS_proposals_Jan2010.pdf

Finally, and crucially, UCU is running a referendum on the employers’ proposals. This will be the only chance you get to vote on the employers’ proposals. If you want to register to vote, just email consultation@ucu.org.uk with the subject line ‘Defend USS’ and we will send you a link to vote. Your vote will only count once.

You can read more here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/defenduss

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