There is a serious danger that the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which runs our pensions, is about to ignore the findings and recommendations of the Joint Expert Panel (JEP) which was the expert body set up at the end of the strike last year (and one of the key concessions we won).
Here’s what you need to know:
- If implemented the findings of the JEP’s first report, underpinned and confirmed by expert and actuarial research and advice, although not perfect would result in no detriment to our pensions;
- Because of this, alongside our own expert’s analysis, the UCU’s official position on USS is also a “no detriment” one, which does not accept anything which leaves our members paying more (there’s no need for this – the deficit is fictional);
- Universities UK (UUK), which represents VCs, have accepted the findings of the JEP, as has Cardiff Uni (although beyond making some muted positive noises, they’ve done little/nothing to pressure USS to accept the JEP’s proposals);
- USS, in its latest documents, does not come close to accepting the views of the JEP’s first report, and is advocating for both members and the employers to pay substantially more than they currently do;
- This doesn’t bode well for USS’s likely reactions to the second JEP report, which is likely to be more detailed, and more wide-ranging in its recommendations;
- This also means there’s a risk to the scheme’s long-term health, and even the possibility that our employers will drastically cut benefits and/or advocate for the closure of the scheme entirely;
- In answer to all of this UCU has said that members will have the final say on any proposal coming from the next scheduled USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) meeting, on Friday 17th May (today), and the dispute will be further discussed at the next higher education sector conference at the end of May;
- As many of us said last year when we ended the strike, we might have to re-ignite the pensions struggle in defense of our right to retire with dignity. Watch this space.