For Staff

USS Pensions

What has happened so far

Below is a chronological history of the 2017 valuation process up to 22 November 2018. You can also view USS's visual overview of 'The 2017 valuation story so far' (published 25 July 2018).

  • Universities UK (UUK, on behalf of employers) and the University and College Union (UCU, on behalf of employees) are equally represented on the USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC). The JNC is responsible for making a decision about how the scheme should be structured in future, often referred to as ‘pension reform’. This decision was due by 18 December 2017 in order to meet statutory requirements, but on 19 December, the decision was deferred until 23 January 2018.
  • Any JNC-agreed changes to member benefits or contributions necessitate a full consultation with scheme members and other affected employees in spring 2018.
  • Changes would apply only to ‘future benefits’ i.e. benefits which are yet to be accrued. Members’ benefits which have been built-up to date and before any contribution/benefit changes are implemented are protected by law.
  • 2016: UUK developed a survey to inform the Employers Pensions Forum’s long-term pensions strategy and the development of an employer position on USS. You can access the University’s submission here
  • March 2017: UUK consulted with USS employers concerning the USS valuation methodology and inputs and you can access the University’s submission here
  • In autumn 2017, UUK consulted with university employers about the valuation. The University of Leeds’ governing body (the Council) reluctantly concluded that significant change was needed to the existing scheme. That view was consistent with that of the majority that contributed. While the situation has developed significantly since that date, the University's response, consisting of a questionnaire and covering letter, can be read here
  • UUK subsequently made a proposal to JNC, based on the consultation and on behalf of employers nationally, that:
    • future benefits would be delivered by USS Investment Builder, i.e. a defined contribution (DC) scheme, while keeping open the option of returning to defined benefits (DB) or a hybrid model should the financial outlook improve;
    • death and incapacity benefits would continue on a defined basis as they are now (i.e. scheme members would be assured a specific level of benefit) so that employers would continue to provide protection in the most difficult of circumstances.
  • UCU opened a ballot for industrial action. 
  • UCU tabled its own proposal and UUK has commented.
  • UCU announced industrial action
  • At its meeting on 23 January 2018, the USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) reached a decision about scheme reform, by the casting vote of its independent chair, in support of a revised proposal from Universities UK (UUK).
  • According to USS, the JNC’s decision results in an estimated funding deficit of £6.1 billion, which means the scheme is 91% funded.
  • UUK wrote an open letter to USS pension scheme members.
  • USS members due to receive individual consultation packs by 16 March, ahead of consultation opening from 19 March 2018.
  • 13 March 2018: Via Acas talks, UUK and UCU agreed a revised proposal, to be considered by their members and the JNC. Member consultation on the existing proposal temporarily suspended by the USS Trustee. UCU branches rejected revised proposal.
  • 23 March 2018: UUK and UCU announce a proposal to establish a joint expert panel to consider the valuation of the USS. This proposal was put to UCU members in a consultative ballot.
  • 13 April 2018: UCU members voted to accept the proposal and suspend industrial action.
  • 27 April 2018: The JNC revoked the 23 January proposal.
  • 3 May 2018: USS Trustee issued update confirming that the consultative member ballot about the 23 January proposal is no longer needed (since the proposal has been revoked) and that plans must progress to invoke 'cost-sharing' rules 76.4-8.
  • 18 May 2018: UCU and UUK announced Joanne Segars OBE as Chair of the USS Joint Expert Panel (JEP).
  • 22 May 2018: UCU announced its JEP members.
  • 25 May 2018: UUK announced its JEP members.
  • June - July 2018: The JEP held its first seven meetings. Published updates from those meetings are accessible via the 'USS Pension Updates' panel on this page and on the UUK website.  
  • July 2018: UUK consulted with USS employers on a range of matters arising from a USS Trustee update, including, among other topics: the ability of employers to make higher contributions in future, the approach to increasing contributions and the possible impact of higher contributions on members. You can access the University’s submission here
  • 25 July 2018: USS shared detail about how the 'cost sharing' rule will affect members.
  • August - September 2018: The JEP held further meetings. Published updates from those meetings are accessible via the 'USS Pension Updates' panel on this page and on the UUK website.  
  • 3 September 2018: USS opens member consultation about implementation of the cost sharing rule 76.4-8
  • UUK launched a new website dedicated to information about the USS 2017 valuation process,
  • September 2018: UUK launched a consultation with employers about the JEP Report recommendations. You can access the University's submitted response here.
  • 8 November 2018: UUK published a statement about the employers' views on JEP recommendations.
  • 22 November: USS published an update about concluding the 2017 valuation and conducting another valuation as at 31 March 2018.

Follow the rest of the timeline on the USS Pensions homepage.