Warwick staff call for action over pension fund

Staff assembly backs motion calling on management to block employers’ plan for USS

October 29, 2014

Staff at the University of Warwick have called on its leadership to block plans “that will change [the] Universities Superannuation Scheme beyond recognition”.

With a marking boycott due to start at pre-1992 universities on 6 November over proposed changes to the sector’s main pension scheme, staff at Warwick have voted unanimously to oppose suggested reforms.

At a meeting of the Warwick University Assembly, which was attended by 201 academic and academic-related staff on 28 October, a series of motions were passed that criticised the USS and Universities UK approach to pension reform.

The motions noted that the USS had an operating surplus of more than £1 billion this year, and had recorded surpluses between 2004 and 2013.

Staff also criticised the method used to calculate the deficit, which is believed to be at least £8 billion, saying it is “predicated on the assumption that a recovery fund must be calculated to pay all future pensions if all USS-scheme universities cease to operate simultaneously”.

Staff said they “do not believe this is a credible scenario for the basis of a recovery plan, because it takes prudence to ridiculous extremes” and called on management to persuade UUK to change its plans.

Some 187 staff voted for the motions, while none opposed them. There were 14 abstentions.

Meanwhile, academics at the University of Cambridge also held a special meeting on the USS, which was chaired by vice-chancellor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, on 28 October.

The university’s working group on pensions has criticised various aspects of UUK’s proposals to end the final salary pension scheme and replace it with a career average model, which also includes a defined contribution element for higher earners.

It claims the assumptions used by the USS may be “overly prudent”, leading to larger-than-required cuts to pensions.

Universities UK has said a recovery plan is “unavoidable” because it must reduce the fund’s deficit in line with rules set by the Pensions Regulator.

“Currently, the employers’ proposal for reform is the only option on the table that offers an affordable, attractive and sustainable pension scheme within the constraints set by the USS trustees,” a spokesman said.

jack.grove@tesglobal.com

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