Statement of the 16th meeting of the Tripartite Group

8 Dec 2020

The statement following the 16th meeting between the University and College Union (UCU), Universities UK (UUK) and the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) in relation to the recommendations of the Joint Expert Panel's (JEP) second report has been published.

The statement from chair of the JEP Joanne Segars, which can also be found on the JEP website, is as follows:

The Tripartite Group (TG) discussion continued to focused on improving trust and confidence between the parties, with a particular focus on communication. The TG also discussed improving the JNC’s effectiveness. The stakeholders then met again to discuss meeting the needs of members and developing the Strategic Discussion Forum.

The TG noted that the JNC Effectiveness Group (JNCEG) was continuing to discuss “quick wins” and that proposals were expected shortly. The TG looked forward to receiving the proposals which it was felt would make a positive contribution to the operation of the JNC.

The TG continued discussions on rebuilding trust and confidence. It was agreed communications, especially in relation to the valuation, played an important part in fostering trust and confidence between the parties. The parties also agreed that they each had a responsibility to communicate in a fair, accurate, evidence-based and respectful manner. Building on the discussions at the previous meeting, the TG considered a draft communications ‘checklist’ which set out factors to be included regarding the the tone and approach, content, and actions required from any communication. The aim of the checklist was to provide stakeholders with greater clarity about how the Trustee had reached particular decisions, and why other options had been rejected. Whilst this was initially drafted to support clearer communication by the Trustee, it was acknowledged that there was scope for the checklist to be adopted for formal communications about the Scheme and its valuation issued centrally by the Stakeholders. It was agreed to further develop the checklist. To provide greater clarity as to the purpose of the checklist, it was agreed to develop an introductory statement. In addition, to test its efficacy an existing piece of communications would be retro-fitted to the checklist.

All parties had raised concerns about the number of opt outs from the Scheme which was higher than comparable schemes. It was noted that USS was extending the analysis considered earlier in the year at the request of Stakeholders. This would be shared at the next meeting.

It was noted that the TG had been in operation for a year. During that time, good progress had been made, including the production of a stakeholder purpose statement (to sit back-to-back with the Trustee’s purpose statement); Shared Valuation Principles; a shared statement on scheme sustainability; proposals for a Strategic Discussion Forum (SDF); and a workstream under the auspices of the JNCEG to enhance the operation of the JNC. The TG agreed that it would continue to work to the end of the year and complete activity on current work areas (JNCEG, communications, and finalizing the SDF, with work being carried forward by the SDF) from the start of 2021.