UCL-UCU: *reminder* General Meeting Thu, 13 Dec, 1-2pm - USS update (please post your ballot paper!)

11 January 2022

This is a reminder of the Emergency General Meeting for Thursday 13 January, 1-2pm, to discuss the situation with COVID-19 and Term 2, and an update on the USS Dispute.

Dear UCL UCU colleague,There is still time to vote in the UCU re-ballot on USS. If you have received a ballot paper and have not voted yet, please make sure you do as soon as possible. The last ‘safe’ day for posting is tomorrow, Wednesday 12 January - ballot papers must arrive by 5 pm on Friday 14.At this meeting we will also take urgent business related to the USS dispute, including the election of two delegates for a UCU branch delegate meeting to take place on 18 January, and any motions on possible action (please contact ucu@ucl.ac.uk).A further message updating members on COVID-19 health and safety concerns will follow shortly.

USS Dispute Update: how much would it cost UCL if UUK changes were not implemented?

Our national USS dispute is over damaging changes to the pension scheme which will cost staff an estimated 30-40% of their future pension (more if we face higher levels of inflation over the next decades).

Many staff will simply be unable to afford to retire. Since changes affect new pension accrual, the greatest impact will be on younger staff.

Changes of this scale are also liable to make the scheme such poor value for money that staff simply leave it, which may force scheme closure.

UCU is therefore calling on the employers' organisation Universities UK to consult employers on:

  • Withdrawing their current un-agreed detrimental changes to members’ pensions;
  • Whether they would be prepared to pay higher contributions for a fixed period to allow a negotiated settlement; and
  • To call publicly for a 2021 valuation.

UCL could easily afford to do this. The ‘fall-back’ or ‘backstop’ cost of conceding these demands would be £4.5m instead of £1.1m, an additional spend of £3.37m to 1 August 22. This is well within the £9.5m budget that UCL had set aside for implementing the previous cost-sharing increases (see tables in Appendix 1 below).

By way of comparison, the tuition fees paid by 2,000 additional undergraduates admitted in 2021 should net UCL at least £18.5m for each of the next three years. UCL’s investment in support for research staff extensions at the start of the pandemic was of the order £2-3m.

Were UCU’s demand to withdraw this proposal conceded, staff would also pay more. We would see our contributions rise from 9.6% to 11% of salary in the short term. But there would be no change to member benefits.

Withdrawing this proposal would permit meaningful negotiations about a new credible and evidence-based valuation.

UCL UCU Executive Committee

Appendix 1 - tables showing three alternate projections of employer's USS contributions

Table 1 - £9.5m: total employer's original budgeted costs for August 2021 to July 2022

 August - September 21October 21 - March 22April - July 22
Employer %21.1%23.7%23.7%
% above August 210.0%2.6%2.6%
Budgeted cost £m£0.0£5.7£5.8

Table 2 - £1.1m: total employer's costs with UUK benefit cuts

 August - September 21October 21 - March 22April - July 22
Employer %21.1%21.4%21.4%
% above August 210.0%0.3%0.3%
Budgeted cost£0.0£0.7£0.4

Table 3 - £4.5m: employer's backstop cost retaining full benefits

 August - September 21October 21 - March 22April - July 22
Employer %21.1%21.4%23.7%
% above August 210.0%0.3%2.6%
Budgeted cost£0.0£0.7£3.8

Tables calculated from data in the UCL Annual Report 2020 p50, note 33.