Principal welcomes joint statement on pension scheme



Professor Richard A. Williams
Professor Richard A. Williams

The Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University has today (Friday 6 October) welcomed a commitment to enhance the benefits offered to members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

Professor Richard A. Williams commented following Universities UK (UUK) and Universities and College Union (UCU), agreed a joint statement, subject to completing their own consultation process, for the 2023 USS valuation. This includes an assurance to reduce staff contribution rates while enhancing USS benefits.

He said: "I welcome the Joint Statement from UUK and UCU, which marks a significant step forward in our collective commitment to ensuring the long-term stability of the USS pension scheme.

“This collaborative effort, aimed at achieving scheme stability, benefit improvements, and reduced contribution rates, reaffirms our dedication to the financial wellbeing of our valued staff. It aligns seamlessly with the principles outlined in the joint statement made with our branch colleagues last year. Together, we are forging a path towards a more secure and prosperous future for all members of the USS community.”

Earlier this year, UUK, representing 330 USS employers, and the UCU, representing scheme members, jointly agreed to lower contributions for members and to improve future benefits to their pre-April 2022 levels, provided such changes were sustainable.

Additionally, subject to appropriate consultation processes by both UCU and UUK, the statement commits to the payment of a one-off Defined Benefit pension augmentation to be made to all eligible members in recognition of the significant improvement in the scheme’s reported funding position, and given the lower scheme benefits from April 2022. This represents an average uplift to members' pensions of £215 per year.

For most members, this additional payment, coupled with the benefits accrued in the scheme over the past two years, exceeds what they would have accumulated in Defined Benefits over the same period had no changes been introduced following the last valuation.

The full joint statement is available on the USSEmployers website.


Craig Philip

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