Vice-Chancellor news

Update to correspondence between the Vice-Chancellor and UCU members taking strike action

Dear signatories

You will recall that I undertook to put your concerns at the Russell Group, and I am now writing to update you on that. I conveyed the strength of feeling and the issue you raise about the 2017 valuation to UUK and both the Trustee and the Executive of USS. The timetable set by the Pensions Regulator requires the valuation to be completed this summer, and a proper, comprehensive, academically informed review of the valuation methodology will take many months at least. I note that UUK and UCU have already agreed to create a group with an independent chair to undertake this work. The formal position at the moment is that the 23 January decision of the JNC, which was to adopt the original UUK proposal, still stands, and will do so unless the JNC agrees to overturn it. You will be aware, however, that the statutory 60-day consultation that was planned to begin on 19 March has been put on hold. If no further agreement is reached by the JNC, and the original decision is not actioned, then the Trustee will be left with no option but to invoke rule 76.4 of the USS scheme, which will involve an 11% rise in contributions from 1 April 2019, split 3.85% from employees and 7.15% from employers. The Regulator has indicated publicly (also in the FT) that the USS Trustee will be subject to censure or fine if it fails to take timely action. I realise that little of this makes welcome reading, but I want to convey to you what I have been told as best I can.

The position remains extremely difficult, but I do believe there is a strong will to achieve a resolution. I hope there is still room for further negotiation regarding the present position, and in terms of the future, if the review group can find a way of sustainably retaining the present level of benefits without a steep rise in costs, and the Regulator agrees, then I am sure it will be adopted.

Best wishes

Colin Riordan

Vice-Chancellor/Is-Ganghellor

Cardiff University/Prifysgol Caerdydd