Josephine Cumbo Profile picture
Sep 13, 2018 17 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Reading fhrough the Joint Expert Panel report and it is quite bruising for the #USS, #UUK and Pensions Regulator.

Key comments from the Executive Summary of the JEP report to follow:
Firstly, on the Trustees’ use of 3 tests to help assess contribution affordability. The Panel thought the Trustees gave “too much weight” to “Test 1” which was not being used as a “stop and check” reference point but “constraint” on benefit design and investment strategy. 1/
The Panel said that “insufficient weight” was given to the fact that USS was a large, open scheme that was cash flow positive. The “strength and diversity” of the HE sector appeared not to have been taken into account “in some areas”. 2/
The Panel reckoned that by giving the strength and diversity of the sector a greater weight, the Trustee and employers may be able to agree a larger “risk envelope” or appetite. (Essentially the Panel disputes the sector is as risky as judged). 3/
The Panel said the way employers’ risk appetite had been applied (by the Trustees) through “Test 1” had contributed to the adoption of “strong risk aversion”. This comment is really about the judgement of the Trustees. 4/
On the unilateral right of the Trustee to set contributions ( subject to consultation)the Panel said “clearly the process needs to be managed more effectively.” 5/
On the Regulator, the Panel said tPR appeared to have taken an approach to the valuation that “does not fully take account of the specifities of USS”. These included the very long-term nature of the scheme; it is cash-flow + & “last-man standing 6/
The Panel said the “framing and context” of questions asked of university employers, as part of the the consultation on the 2017 #USS valuation, produced “misleading results”. The outcome appeared to be “inconsistent with many employers’ wishes” said the Panel. 7/
Fairly damning criticism on the UUK’s consultation process with the 350 university employers it represents. The Panel said the consultation timeframes were sometimes “very short”. It was “debatable” whether employers were able to give “fully informed” answers to imp questions. 8/
USS also came in for criticism from the Panel over the “large volume” of information it had put on its website on the 2017 valuation which was “extremely technical and complex” in language and content. This had likely contributed to falling member confidence in the scheme. 9/
The Panel said there was no formal mechanism for involving #USS members in the valuation process. This was relevant given cost-sharing when additional contributions were required. Responses to the JEP report from USS / TPR / UUK to follow, for completeness of thread. 10/
USS response: “There may well be areas where our opinion and understanding differs from that if the Panel but we will want to reflect on the report in due course.” Full response:…. 11/
UUK response: “We hope that it (the JEP report) will create the space for UCU and UUK to find common ground to conclude the 2017 valuation.”…. /12
Pensions Regulator: “We note the publication of the report & await responses from the universities, union & scheme trustee. More analysis now needs to be done to fully understand the implications of the proposals on the l-t affordability of the scheme.” /13
UCU response: “This first report is a significant landmark in our ongoing campaign to defend members’ pensions.”…
Link to #USS Joint Expert Panel report:… End of thread.
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More from @JosephineCumbo

Sep 13, 2018
BREAKING: #USS Joint Expert Panel, reviewing 2017 #USS valuation, has published its report.

Summary of key recommendations to follow:
The Panel looked in detail at the methodology, assumptions and tests employed by the Trustee, and particularly at USS’s ‘Test 1’ which underpins the 2017 valuation.

"In the Panel’s view this test has assumed too much weight in determining the valuation."

The Panel unanimously recommended 4 areas where adjustments to the 2017 valuation should be considered:

1. A re-evaluation of the employers’ attitude to risk, which would result in a re-evaluation of the reliance on the sponsor covenant.

Read 11 tweets
Sep 9, 2018
Not pension-related

But an important thread about how YOUR personal information is being used by private-sector providers delivering NHS services.

You are probably unaware.

Read on.

I was registered with online services with my local GP which allowed me to do things like book appointments and send messages to the surgery. This website was run by the clinic and was a bit clunky, TBH.

Recently, my GP clinic advised that I needed to re-register for their online service.

I re-registered and on Friday received a short email offering the choice of signing up for online services with 3 websites I had never heard of before,.

Patient Access
Evergreen Life

Read 11 tweets
Mar 29, 2018
I have asked #UUK if the March 12 ACAS proposal for #USS valuation, which was rejected by #UCU members, remains on the table.

Headline terms of this offer: £42K salary threshold for DB, 1/85th accrual and 2.5% inflation and revaluation cap.

Response to follow:

"Discussions on benefit reform remain paused while we await the UCU response to the convening of a Joint Expert Panel.

We are committed to maintaining a meaningful DB element within any new proposal."

I have gone back to #UUK on this reply as it hasn't quite provided the clarity needed on employers' position.
Read 4 tweets
Mar 28, 2018

#UCU members to be consulted over latest #USS pension dispute proposals
#UCU general secretary Sally Hunt: "These latest proposals were won by the solid action of UCU members and now is the time for them to have their say on what happens next."

Members will be consulted next week.

#UCU: "After seeking some clarification, including that the DB element of the scheme would be maintained while a joint-expert panel considers the valuation of the USS fund, the Higher Education Committee voted to put the proposals to members in a ballot."

Read 4 tweets
Mar 28, 2018
I have received responses from #USS regarding the role of the joint expert panel in relation to the 2017 #USS #pension review.

Questions and answers to follow.

Q: What is the fallback position for #USS on the 2017 valuation if the joint expert panel does not reach agreement?

A: The trustee must look to follow its duties under scheme rules and the law (cont)

A: (cont) and with its fiduciary duties as soon as reasonably possible. The trustee has recently completed a robust, independent and considered valuation, in which it has full confidence and which - absent new material evidence - is the basis for the next steps. (cont)

Read 8 tweets
Mar 26, 2018
#UUK has responded to further questions on the #USS proposal made to #UCU Friday 23/12.

Questions and answers to follow

Q: Has UUK undertaken to remove Jan23 JNC decision completely from the table?
A: As part of the jointly developed proposal agreed at Acas on 12March UUK pledged not to take forward the Jan23 JNC decision & suspended member consultation on it. This commitment remains in place
Q: Is #USS bound to accept the recommendation of the joint expert panel?

A: Under legislation it is the trustee’s role to determine the scheme’s technical provisions therefore the USS Trustee cannot be bound by the findings of the Joint Expert Panel.

Read 8 tweets

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