Vindication from the Joint Expert Panel on USS

On 13 September the USS Joint Expert Panel (JEP) published its first report on the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), dealing with controversial 2017 valuation. The formation of the JEP was one of the main wins from 2018’s strike action. Its first report supports almost all of UCU’s claims around the existence and size of the “phantom deficit” in our pension scheme, our employers’ attitudes to risk, and the fact there’s no need to slash our future pensions. Importantly, it says that only a very small increase in contributions is needed to keep our benefits at the same level.

You can read about it more in detail in this excellent piece from USS Briefs. If the report is implemented, however, we will still face an increase in contributions and we will need to discuss as a union whether we want to swallow this, or argue the employers should pick up the cost (as suggested in this statement from UCU Left).

In short, its findings show we were right to take a stand, that the basis for our strike was justified, and that our employers were wrong to oppose us. In light of this vindication, Cardiff UCU has agreed a joint statement with Cardiff University about the need to work together to pressure USS and the Pensions Regulator to accept its broad conclusions pending the more detailed future work of the JEP.

This report, the result of our members’ dogged struggle and commitment to evidence-based critique, is a valuable win in the battle to retain our defined benefit (DB) pensions and the right to a secure retirement. Like us, the UCU nationally has welcomed the report. It is now committed to examining it and consulting with members on the next steps in our dispute (in line with concessions won by members to democratise the UCU at conference and special conference this year).