Pensions: preempt the Treasury

April 21, 2000

Managers of the Univer-sities Superannuation Scheme were right to err on the side of caution in estimating a decade or two ago how well investments would fare to pay staff pensions ("Richer than you thought", Soapbox, THES, April 14).

Another factor contributing to the present surplus is that present pensions are much smaller than had originally been estimated.

They depend on final salaries, which have scarcely risen in real terms. Many staff have retired early on reduced pensions or with extra money paid in to bring their pensions up to normal retirement level.

The money will not sit in USS coffers indefinitely. It will catch the eye of the Treasury, which will advise employers to arrange a contributions holiday.

As an incentive, higher _education funding will be cut accordingly.

Before the money slips from our grasp, perhaps fund staff and employer trustees could agree to recognise the trend to earlier retirement (and later career starts), to make the full pension payable at 30 years' service rather than 40, and to remove the actuarial adjustment that further penalises those who do not retire at 65.

Anthony Matthew, Computer centre, Leicester University

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