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Academic pensions: at a stalemate?

Blog Author Phil McEvoy

Blog Date 08/08/2018



We are no further forward with a resolution on the fate of those who hold academic pensions, with negotiations between University and College Union (UCU) and Universities UK (UUK) being deferred until the newly established Joint Expert Panel has reported on the 2017 valuation (which will in turn feed into thoughts on any potential benefit changes arising from that). 

It remains to be seen whether this will bring any fruitful outcome, and we will await their report with interest. 

The Universities Superannuation Scheme's (USS) most recent announcement has provided a briefing on the cost-sharing rules, which suggests that, in the absence of any resolution between UCU and UUK, all pensions members will have to increase their contributions from 2019. 

Their 2017 valuation estimated that the scheme needs an extra £900m a year in contributions from both members and employers to continue to offer the current level of benefits and to safeguard levels for the future. 

They are now suggesting a huge 11.4% increase on contributions, from 26% today to 37.4% by April 2020.

For pension members this would be a rise from 8% to 8.8% in April 2019, then to 10.4% in October 2019 and then to 11.7% in April 2020.


For employers, the similarly timed increases would see their contributions rise from 18% to 19.5%, then to 22.5%, and finally to 24.9%. 

This may just be a move to get UCU, UUK and the Joint Expert Panel to hasten their talks, but the future is not looking at all certain. 

If no progress is made, then the USS plans to launch a formal consultation on the proposed increases in September, and if that happens, we will make a detailed response on the impact of this for our members.

We know that this uncertainty is causing a great deal of stress and financial concerns amongst our members that hold these pensions

Futures are in jeopardy, and the pension pots that academics build up after any change could be seriously prejudiced. 

With enough difficulties recruiting in the dental academic sector, particularly at the more senior level, such financial instability is doing nothing to help alleviate those problems.

We will continue to argue for decent pensions for academic staff.

We are always interested to hear your thoughs on the USS and how the changes might impact on you, or talk through any concerns you have, please get in touch.

Phil McEvoy

BDA Head of Pensions


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