Joint statement to Keele staff by Keele’s University Executive Committee (UEC) and Keele UCU

December 2021

Members of Keele’s Executive Committee and Officers of the Keele branch of UCU are very keen that the national dispute concerning the USS pension scheme is resolved. We consider the USS pension provision to be a highly important part of the reward package for our staff so we call for tripartite discussions to be energetically activated with urgency, to ensure that USS remains a sustainable and an affordable benefit for the long-term, which is attractive to all our staff and financially sustainable for our University and the rest of the HE sector.

The scheme already has affordability issues for some staff and universities so maintaining current contribution levels is a priority, relying as little as possible on new covenants placed on universities. The priority for UUK, UCU and USS therefore needs to be to URGENTLY work together on the following areas and we jointly implore them all to do so with energy and determination to resolve the issues prior to the 2023 valuation point:

  • How can the scheme be modified to ensure the approach to risk creates a more attractive financial setting while maintaining a defined benefit element? Nuanced approaches should be looked at closely. 
  • We recognise the unique nature of USS as a multi-employer scheme in the UK pensions sector and one that should not be judged in the same way as a typical private-sector scheme. We call on all parties to seek to make a case for changes in the current regulatory and actuarial approach to reflect the different nature of risk in this scheme.
  • It is important that the governance arrangements for USS are fit for purpose so that the levels of risk are transparently discussed and agreed by all parties, that long-term and short-term perspectives are always considered and that intergenerational fairness and cross-generational attitudes are embedded in the approach.
  • We have a special concern for early career and low-paid staff and we ask that the scheme is adapted to ensure that the scheme takes an approach that delivers the contribution levels and the flexibility that they need.