Martin O'Neill Profile picture
Mar 14, 2018 19 tweets 16 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
This looks like good news from @TPRgovuk, opening the door to a #USS deal on the basis of the Sept 2017 valuation involved in the initial @UCU recovery plan, if only the remaining hold-out VCs will accept this. 1/x
But we should in any case beware one kind of mistake which comes from treating @TPRgovuk as some unmovable exogenous constraint on a #USS deal. (1) The #tPR view itself is in part a function of VC’s avowed positions on risk levels. 2/x
And, (2) as @AdamJTucker has pointed out, there is a good degree of flexibility in how @TPRgovuk operates, and its regulatory framework allows space for appropriate intervention from the government. See embedded thread:

Two things worry me about the role of @TPRgovuk. Firstly, given its apparent role in precipitating & prolonging an avoidable crisis in #USS, its communications are wholly inadequate. It’s twitter feed is useless, and its chief exec, Lesley Titcomb, maintains a frustrating silence
Given the hundreds of thousands of working hours loss, the implications for students, and the worry about our future livelihoods, it’s nowhere near good enough for #tPR to communicate only by sparse Delphic pronouncements delivered to @JosephineCumbo @FT (great though she is!)
This raises a question of whether #tPR is fit for purpose. Is it under-resourced? Or is it just badly run?

Given the lack of public information of scrutiny, we just don’t know, but it’s clear that something isn’t right @TPRgovuk.

#USSstrikes #USS #StrikeForUSS
And so to a wider set of worries. Every party involved in this avoidable #USS crisis is marked by questionable governance, and a worrying lack of public scrutiny.

@UniversitiesUK is a hopeless shambles; @TPRgovuk a shadowy presence that won’t make its own case in public
But the largest mess in terms of governance is #USS itself. So much of the future of #USS depends on whether its trustees really promote the interest of scheme members, or whether they are more likely to promote the conventional wisdom of the financial services industry.
On how the crisis of #USS is part of a wider pattern of inadequate pension governance in the UK, set up to benefit extractive rent-seeking middle-men rather than pension holders themselves, see Christine Berry @oeufling here:

Members of #USS would hope that the USS Trustees and Chief Executive would take a strong and robust stance in dealing with the regulator @TPRgovuk , esp. given the special features of #USS as a scheme. Has this happened, or are there conflicts of interest. Esp. worrying is...
Especially worrying are the possible conflicts of interest of #USS chief exec Bill Galvin, who was previously chief exec of the #tPR @TPRgovuk. (Before that he was a DWP civil servant involved in the design of the #tPR regulatory system.)

More follows...
Bill Galvin is paid £566,000 by our #USS pension fund, but does he have the interest of scheme members at heart? Does he take a robust & constructive approach to interactions w/ #tPR? Or does he, as a former regulator, have conflicted loyalties?
We have a situation where there are many people, not just Bill Galvin, getting very rich directly from our pension fund, but who is defending the interests of #USS *members* at #USS? (There are other #USS employees earning over £900k from *our* fund.)
It is in short a grotesque scandal that a £60 bn pension fund, run ostensibly for the benefit of its members, operates with such minimal public information, minimal outside scrutiny, minimum engagement w/ members. Without even a Twitter account.
#USS as an organisation is making some of its own employees, such as Bill Galvin, very rich indeed. Don't these people getting rich on *our* money owe us more in terms of engagement? More in terms of information? More in terms of defending *our* interests?
With #USSstrikes running on, that fundamental questions are now being asked. It's now clear that we need to take #USS, #UUK *and* #TPR out of the shadows. These institutions that decide on matters of fundamental importance for our lives can no longer exist in secluded corridors.
For too long, those actually funding #USS have been locked out, ignored and marginalised. We may even have been taken for a ride.

We need to #democratizeUSS. Just as #WeAreTheUniversity, #WeAreUSS.

#USSstrike #StrikeForUSS #USSstrikes #UCU #UCUstrikes #UCUstrike

Here's the @threadreaderapp version of my thread on the Pension Regulator @TPRgovuk and #USS.

I hope that the issues on the governance of these institutions get more discussion.

#USSstrikes #StrikeForUSS #NoCapitulation #WeAreTheUniversity #UCUstrike…

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More from @martin_oneill

May 19, 2018
On the newly-renationalized (✊😊💯👍!) East Coast rail, heading home to York after a very stimulating day at the @UKLabour #StateOfTheEconomy conference, it seemed like a good moment to reflect on this week's @TheEconomist piece on 'Corbynomics' (THREAD)…
The first thing to say is that @duncanrobinson & @econcallum are to be congratulated on a serious piece of analysis, which avoids the parade of dismal, lazy clichés that we see in so many other publications. Serious political journalism shouldn't be so rare, but it's good to see!
There's a useful analytic frame in dividing Labour's political economy thinking into fiscal policy, monetary policy, and structural reforms. And it's right to say that the third of these will actually be the most significant.
Read 26 tweets
Mar 16, 2018
Here's a THREAD on the #USS Trustees, powerful individuals whose role has been insufficiently examined, and who have been operating without the full benefits of public scrutiny.

#USSstrikes #USSstrike #WeAreTheUniversity #StrikeForUSS #DemocratiseUSS #DemocratizeUSS

As the #USS dispute goes on, it's clearer than ever that the institutions that govern our pensions have been failing us in multiple ways. They are secretive, non-transparent, marked by conflicts of interest and revolving doors. We need to open up and #DemocratizeUSS.
Of the 5 “independent” Trustees of #USS, 4 have a background working for investment and financial services companies, the 5th used to work for Rio Tinto, the mining company, running their gold mines in Papua New Guinea.

Let's have a look at them.
Read 33 tweets
Mar 8, 2018
The #USSstrike has got many people thinking for the first time about pension governance, and about the agenda for overhauling the pension system that the left is going to have to pursue in the years ahead. Here's a thread with some useful reading.

#USS #StrikeforUSS #USSstrikes
Great post by @ewanmcg on @LSEpoliticsblog on the context of the #USS strike, issues in #USS governance, and the rent-extraction of financial intermediaries.…
And an excellent piece by Christine Berry @oeufling for @openDemocracy @openDemocracyUK on the "hot mess" of the UK pension system and the iniquities of how financial intermediaries are taking us all for a ride:…
Read 12 tweets

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