Cutting through the spin on USS

Reporting a Russell Group statement of principles for the USS pension scheme (5 July 2021), UoN management referred to:

… UUK alternative proposals to maintain USS as a hybrid Defined Benefit/Defined Contributions scheme with no increases in contributions to the scheme by members, backed up by employers offering further, stronger covenant support measures.

Is this the whole truth? No.

It’s spin.  “Maintain USS … with no increases in contributions … by members” fails to point out that the UUK proposals will lead to a much worse scheme for members.

This is how UUK, supported by management at the University of Nottingham, wants to cut your pension:

  • now, your pension grows by 1/75th of salary for every year you work; UUK proposals would cut this to 1/85th – cutting pensions by 12%
  • now, every pound you earn up to £59,800 adds to the secure defined benefit element of your pension; UUK proposals would cut this threshold to £40,000
  •  now, inflation can’t erode the buying power of your pension unless it exceeds 5%; UUK proposals would cut this protection to 2.5%

To see what impact these proposals will have on your pension, visit the modeller provided by UCU here.

UUK represents the interests of employers in USS negotiations. UCU represents the interests of everyone who is eligible to join USS. UCU opposes these damaging UUK proposals.

UCU Committee message to management on 19 May 2021 re USS:

Dear Vice Chancellor, Chair of Council, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Registrar, 

I am writing on behalf of the local UCU committee to express our grave concern about UoN management’s shift away from questioning USS’s valuation method toward accepting the most recent UUK proposals. We note that, if implemented, the UUK proposals would imply significant cuts to our members’ pensions including the following:  

  1. DB (defined benefits) salary threshold reduced to £40k. Currently we receive DB for income up to about ~£60k. This would bring all but the lowest paid members into the Defined Contribution (DC) scheme, significantly reducing benefits, and constitutes a step in bringing back the DC scheme that industrial action threw out in 2018.
  2. Accrual rate reduced to 1/85 (from the current 1/75) cutting the value of future pension by 12%.
  3. Reduction in inflation proofing to 2.5%. Currently it is up to 10%. Inflation has been high in the past and could increase again. If inflation does increase, our pensions could be very quickly reduced to only a fraction of their current value. 
Continue reading “UCU Committee message to management on 19 May 2021 re USS:”

Transparent, participatory financial decision-making? Not at the University of Nottingham!

Following up on our Alternative Financial Strategy, UoN’s UCU committee has approached management to share its new, updated Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) with us. This is the document that sets out the University’s financial plans for the medium term, the current plan covers the period until 2025. The MTFP is a tool to implement the University’s Strategy. Management has, however, refused to share the MTFP. We have been told that it would be made available only after it has been approved by the University’s Finance Committee and Council in the summer. That is, the union can only see the Plan after it has been decided and therefore not open to revision or amendment.

Continue reading “Transparent, participatory financial decision-making? Not at the University of Nottingham!”

University of Nottingham UCU’s Alternative Financial Strategy – because there is a better way.

Earlier this year the University of Nottingham UCU branch launched its Alternative Financial Strategy. This was produced by engaging an external expert in higher education finances and drawing on the relevant disciplinary expertise of UoN’s branch members. The Strategy was overwhelmingly endorsed by members. It represents a response to the impact of the pandemic but also makes a longer-term case for managing the University’s finances differently and for making financial management in the University more open and democratic.

Continue reading “University of Nottingham UCU’s Alternative Financial Strategy – because there is a better way.”

A new attack on USS pensions

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is facing a renewed attack by the employers’ representatives, Universities UK (UUK).

Sam Marsh, one of UCU’s USS national negotiators, joined our branch meeting on 5 May to explain how we got to the current situation, what’s at stake, the implications of UUK’s proposals and UCU’s proposals to resolve the situation.

You can watch Sam’s presentation here.

You can view Sam’s slides here