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Your pension and the part we play

It’s our job to look after the money that you and your employer pay into your pension, in trust for the people who will benefit from it: you and your beneficiaries

Our members are our number one priority. In fact, most of the people who work at USS are members, just like you, so we have a personal stake in looking after your best interests.

Our most important role is to make sure you have a pension you can rely upon when you retire. As part of this, we have to make sure the benefits you’ve been promised can be paid, and we’re required by law to regularly check that we have enough funding to do this. We calculate our funding position by running a valuation, which acts as a financial health-check.

Our latest valuation has highlighted a gap between how much we have, and how much we’ll need, to pay the benefits being promised.

We have shared information with the JNC on how much it will cost for members to continue to build up the same level of pension benefits in future. The JNC now needs to decide what action to take to address this increase in cost and has committed to do so before the end of August.

As part of this process, UUK, which represents your employers, has been consulting with them on changes to how benefits could be built up in the future and how employers could increase the support they are prepared to give. If they were to go ahead, these changes would help tackle these funding issues and significantly reduce the contributions required, compared to the contribution increases we presented to the JNC in March. However, if implemented, the changes would lead to a reduction in how much members build up in their Retirement Income Builder in the future and an increase for many members in how much they save in the Investment Builder.

Read our recent update for more details on the latest position.

Who makes the decisions?

USS is a little more complicated than most pension schemes. It involves multiple employers who are represented by Universities UK (UUK) and members who are represented by Universities College Union (UCU). They work together as part of the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) to set the level of future pension benefits and determine the contribution structure to enable us to pay the pension promises made to members. Find out more in our handy videos below.

It’s up to the JNC to decide how the cost of any changes would be split between employers and members. However, given the changes being considered it is likely that there will need to be an employer consultation with members. The earliest date any changes to benefits could be introduced would be 1 April 2022.

We stand ready to support UUK and UCU as they develop their proposals and consider the options.

Of course, we want the scheme to be affordable for all members, so they join the scheme, stay in it and save for their future. But it’s not our job to say what the benefits should be or what contributions you and your employers should pay. Our job is to make sure there’s enough money to pay what’s already been promised to members. Remember, no matter what changes may come in future, the benefits you’ve already built up are safe and secure and are protected by law.

Published: 18 June 2021

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