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The Vice-Chancellor has made a statement to staff on the USS pension scheme, pay and benefits.

We are committed to keeping staff in the USS pension scheme informed about changes to the scheme and the progress of the ongoing 2018 valuation. As we expect further news about the completion of this valuation to emerge over the coming weeks, while many members may be away from Cambridge, I wanted to be in touch now to assure you that the University is committed to getting the best, and most affordable pensions for our staff.

On USS, I believe that concluding the March 2018 valuation rapidly would be the best short-term option available. The priority should be to maintain benefits while providing the time needed for the Joint Expert Panel to complete its second phase of work on the approach to the USS’s valuation process. You can read Cambridge’s submission to the panel here. We argue that the Trustee, with the ultimate support of the Pensions Regulator, should adopt an approach to valuation that recognises the unique nature of the scheme and is based on a long-term investment strategy. This has the potential to deliver excellent and affordable pensions for USS members.

Longer term, I believe the best way to end the USS dispute is for UUK, UCU and the USS Trustee to adopt a shared set of principles that will guarantee the long-term sustainability of the scheme. Achieving that will take time, cooperation and further compromise. I believe, therefore, that all parties must engage openly and constructively with recommendations that the JEP makes, and the University is fully committed to doing that. I know that there has been productive work between employers and UCU at individual universities, including here at Cambridge. I hope that common ground can now be found at a national level in the months ahead.

I also want staff to know that we are working hard to improve pay and benefits, while closely monitoring the financial pressures that the University and the higher education sector are facing. Over the past year, we have moved to increase the salaries of the lowest paid, provided additional funding for academic promotions, and are now reviewing reward schemes for professional services staff.

The University also recognises that the Cambridge region is an expensive place to live, with significant demands placed on its vital services and infrastructure. A new nursery at Eddington, and plans to develop another at Harrison Drive, are designed to help staff with young families. We have also introduced a new Rental Deposit Loan Scheme, and are actively working on plans to further extend eligibility for our housing shared equity scheme. The Council has established a working group to identify our most urgent unmet housing needs. It is due to report by the end of the calendar year.

We will continue to update you on all of this work over the coming year. In the meantime, I would like to wish you the very best for the summer, and to thank you for all the work you do for the University.