Statement of the third meeting of the tripartite group

27 Jan 2020

The full statement following the third meeting between the University and College Union (UCU), Universities UK (UUK) and 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 parties continued their discussions on the recommendations of the second JEP report. The discussions continued in a positive spirit, with UCU, UUK and USS each engaging actively in the process.

"The tripartite group received a report of the discussion held the previous day at the USSL Trustee Board meeting concerning the 2020 valuation and the tripartite talks. It was reported that invitations had been issued to stakeholders to take part in the Valuation Methodology Discussion Forum. This Forum would consider the emerging findings from the Trustee’s review of the approach to the valuation methodology, including the issues raised by the JEP’s second report, e.g. the Dual Discount Rate. The Board welcomed the continuation of the tripartite discussions. The Stakeholders welcomed the increasing visibility of the Trustee Directors through the extension of the Valuation Methodology Discussion Forum to stakeholders as well as through work already underway, including greater Trustee interaction at JNC meetings.

"The tripartite group went on to consider the matter of sustainability in light of the JEP’s recommendation that the parties should coalesce around a broad definition of sustainability which recognises the specificities of USS whilst also respecting regulatory requirements. The tripartite group had a useful discussion and agreed that there were a number of areas important to a definition of sustainability suitable for a scheme such as USS. It was agreed to return to this issue at a future meeting. It was hoped that this could then form part of the valuation discussions.

"The group went on to begin to map out how, by whom and in what order the recommendations of the JEP relating to valuation governance should be considered. It was agreed that some of the JEP’s recommendations sat primarily with individual stakeholders – e.g. the recommendation relating to employer representation rested with UUK. The meeting considered the JEP’s proposal for a Strategic Group to consider issues relating to the future direction of the Scheme. It was recognised that it was not the role of such a group to usurp that of the JNC, but rather that it should take a longer-term perspective than the JNC. It was further recognised that such a group, which would sit outside the formal structures set out in the Trust Deed and Rules, could play an important role in building trust and understanding between the parties. There was a discussion about the role and involvement of the Trustee in the Strategic Group, and a recognition that the group should be led by the Stakeholders, but that the Trustee would be invited to participate. It was agreed to consider further the scope of the group further at the next meeting.

"The tripartite group then discussed the JEP’s recommendations relating to the JNC. It was agreed that an options paper should be developed for the tripartite group to consider. Each party would contribute to the development of the options paper and this work would be led by representatives nominated by each party.

"The next meeting of the tripartite group would consider: a report back on the progress in establishing the Valuation Methodology Discussion Forum; the development of the options paper relating to the JNC; and the Strategic Group. It was also agreed that USS would present its research on Scheme member opt outs. It was agreed that it would be helpful for the tripartite group to continue to meet through February and March."

The fourth meeting took place on 27 January, and a statement following that meeting is expected within a week.