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The USS Trustee has published information about contribution increases under the cost-sharing rule.

The following briefing on USS has been prepared by the University’s Pensions Working Group in consultation with Cambridge UCU. It was sent as an email to all staff on Wednesday 1 August 2018.

You can read our last update on USS, where we explain about the cost-sharing rule and the Joint Expert Panel, here.

As explained in our last update about the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), there are currently two parallel strands of work on the disputed 2017 valuation of the scheme.

In one strand, a Joint Expert Panel (JEP) is meeting over the summer to review the valuation tests and assumptions and is expected to report in September. The panel’s report may provide a basis for new proposals for benefit reform. The University of Cambridge is committed to engaging constructively with this process to try to ensure a positive outcome for scheme members and employers.

The other strand is the implementation of the Scheme’s cost-sharing rules by the USS Trustee. This is a contingency measure that the Trustee is obliged to execute in order to demonstrate to the Pensions Regulator that it is acting responsibly to maintain the scheme’s funding level. The cost-sharing rules stipulate that if employers and members cannot reach agreement on benefit reform via the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC), and the cost of providing the current level of benefits has risen, the additional cost of providing the same level of benefits must be shared between employers and members.

The Trustee is preparing to implement cost-sharing from 1 April 2019. If different benefit arrangements are agreed as a result of the JEP’s report in September this year, the Trustee will move to implement them, but this could take up to twelve months. Cost-sharing would therefore still be implemented as a bridging measure between 1 April 2019 and whenever the revised benefit arrangements come into effect.

Contribution increases

USS has now released details of the increases that will be applied to member and employer contributions under cost-sharing, and the timeline of these increases.

When cost-sharing is implemented, all USS benefits, with the exception of the AVC match (see below) will remain the same as they currently are. Member contributions will rise from 8 per cent of salary to 8.8 per cent of salary from 1 April 2019. They will rise further to 10.4 per cent of salary from 1 October 2019 and to 11.7 per cent of salary from 1 April 2020.

Employer contributions will increase to 19.5 per cent of salary from 1 April 2019, followed by 22.5 per cent from 1 October 2019 and 24.9 per cent from 1 April 2020.

Members earning more than £57,216.50, the current USS salary threshold, will pay the same contributions as other members (i.e. 8.8 per cent from April 2019 rising to 11.6 per cent in April 2020). But only contributions worth 8 per cent of salary in excess of the threshold will go into these members’ personal pension pots in the USS Investment Builder. The excess from these members’ contributions above the salary threshold will go towards the cost of providing defined benefits in the rest of the scheme. Employers will continue to pay contributions of 12 per cent on salary above the threshold. The 1 per cent employer ‘match’ in the USS Investment Builder will be discontinued from 1 April 2019.

You can read more about the pension increases entailed in cost-sharing on the USS website.

Consultation

There will be a statutory member consultation on the cost-sharing increases. This will start in September and run for 60 days. Members will have access to more information about how contribution increases will affect them, and will have a chance to express their views.

To support and inform members during the consultation period, the University of Cambridge will run information meetings in locations across the collegiate university: further details about these and information on how to book a place will be provided nearer the time.

The University is committed to communicating regularly with USS members. You can find all our previous communications, including recordings of open meetings, on this page.

Updates about USS are also posted on the For Staff webpage.

Please note: an earlier version of this webpage incorrectly stated that member contributions would rise to 11.6 per cent of salary from 1 April 2020. The correct figure is 11.7 per cent.