Surplus spending

June 23, 2000

If the Universities Superannuation Scheme is looking for a way to spend some of its (our?) surplus sensibly ("Conflicting interests in the grey market", THES June 9), then employing a few more staff, and updating its technology, could be to the uniform benefit of all pensioners.

I am in receipt of a USS pension, and recently had reason to write to the scheme.

When after nine weeks I had not received a response (or even an acknowledgement) I rang the USS up. The charming lady on the end of the phone told me that (owing to staff levels) all letters were taking at least six weeks to answer.

After she went to see if mine had indeed been dealt with, she said that it was impractical to check on the USS computer system because it would take at least ten minutes to get to the appropriate screen, the system being so slow.

While the trustees must be commended for their diligence in retaining income for the benefit of the pensioners, it is a false economy to cut administration costs to a level at which they cease to service the aims of USS effectively.

Stephen Carter. Nailsea, North Somerset

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