The University of Bath and the University of Bath Branch of the University and College Union (Bath UCU) are issuing this joint statement to mark their commitment to work collaboratively to advocate for a fair, affordable and sustainable pension scheme for members.
The University and Bath UCU acknowledge:
- The importance of providing a good pension scheme for the reward and retention of staff;
- The national economic situation, and its impact on recent valuations of USS has led to significant membership concern about the scheme, a strength of feeling which has led to periods of industrial action;
- That progress is being made at national level and welcome the interim joint statement from UUK and UCU with respect to the USS dispute
The University and Bath UCU agree to the following ten points and will write jointly to Universities UK (UUK) and UCU outlining their agreement and calling for the support and implementation of them all.
Should the financial position of the scheme improve sufficiently at a future valuation (or earlier where possible), improving benefits for members of the USS should be the highest priority. The member benefits prior to Apr 2022 should be a key benchmark in this process;
Members of the JNC should work together to ensure the 2023 valuation is: (i) moderately prudent, (ii) evidence-based, and (iii) takes into account both the open and long-term nature of the scheme and the unique nature of the higher education sector;
USS and stakeholders should prioritise work to ensure the 2023 valuation timetable runs to time and ensures that any benefits from the valuation are implemented for members as soon as possible;
The University of Bath commits to supporting an open hybrid scheme with a defined benefit element. It will also continue to provide the enhanced covenant support for this valuation to strengthen commitment on any proposals formally presented and agreed through negotiations at the USS Joint Negotiating Committee
The University of Bath wishes to see governance reform of USS and supports an independent review of the governance of USS to be carried out with UCU and UUK as joint partners overseeing the review and reforms. The review should include serious consideration of the Joint Expert Panel recommendations on governance;
The University of Bath will seek to influence the collective employer position in relation to future negotiations and national-level work relating to USS and will urge national bodies to work constructively together. The University of Bath will call on UUK and USS to work with the Pensions Regulator and the Department for Work and Pensions over the strength of the sector and the long-term open nature of USS to allow for moderately prudent valuations;
During negotiations, all parties should encourage USS to embrace the sectors commitments to sustainability and the University of Bath’s Climate Action Framework;
UUK with USS should carry out a sector-wide equality impact assessment for all protected characteristics to understand any direct or indirect discrimination of future proposed changes to the scheme;
UUK, UCU and USS should look for ways to build the reputation of the USS scheme through more transparent and effective communications, rapidly correcting potential inaccuracies and effective engagement of stakeholders in the scheme;
While the University of Bath and Bath UCU remain committed to an open hybrid scheme with a defined benefit element, both parties support the exploration of alternative scheme designs for USS, including an evaluation of conditional indexation.