In “USS strike: why I won’t join the pensions strike” (Opinion, 28 March), Nick Foster argues that the case for pensions reform cannot be ignored. He cites a recent Green Paper, Security and Sustainability in Defined Benefit Pension Schemes, which, on page 24, clarifies that the main concern of the Pensions Regulator is “the risk of employer insolvency”: “The critical risk to members [of a pension scheme] (and the PPF [Pension Protection Fund]) is, therefore, insolvency of the sponsoring employer(s) at any point when the scheme is underfunded.”
It is reasonable to worry about this, and to impose valuation assumptions based on a real risk of employer insolvency, where the employer is a company of the usual sort. It is crazy to worry about this, and to impose valuation assumptions based on a real risk of employer insolvency, where “the employer” is, collectively, all 68 of the UK’s pre‑92 universities. On any realistic valuation assumptions, there is either no deficit or a surplus – so no need to change the scheme. Neither the regulator nor the trustee of the Universities Superannuation Scheme should be making decisions on the basis of irrational assumptions.