Statement from Universities UK, the representative of 330 USS employers.
UUK has undertaken a short consultation with scheme employers on the proposed package of changes to conclude the 2023 valuation. This consultation follows a period of negotiations with UCU – supported by the USS Trustee – in light of the much-improved financial position of the scheme.
In their responses to the consultation, employers have overwhelmingly affirmed their support for the proposed package. The planned changes, which include improvements to future benefits, lower contributions together with a one-off uplift, have been backed by employers as a fair and balanced solution to the valuation. Employers have welcomed the joint agreement on the measures between UUK and UCU.
In responding, employers emphasised the importance of building greater resilience within the scheme so that future valuations are less volatile. They reiterated their support for the Stability Working Group discussions with UCU and the USS Trustee and would like to see tangible steps taken to achieve greater financial resilience within the scheme.
Employers are reassured that the cost of the planned uplift (or augmentation) to benefits can be met through the overpayment of contributions during this scheme year, leaving all the surplus (or the vast majority of it) to be used to make the scheme more sustainable.
We look forward to reviewing the responses to the separate consultation with affected employees and their representatives (which closes on 24 November 2023), which will then allow us to finalise the package of changes so that they can be implemented as soon as possible. On this, we welcome the signal from the USS Trustee that a reduction in member and employer contributions can be achieved earlier than April 2024, potentially from January 2024.