Discover and read the best of Twitter Threads about #USS

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Jane Hutton's suspension followed shortly after an email she wrote to me, the JNC chair, and one of UUK's negotiators. The reaction this email received from #USS CEO Bill Galvin makes me believe he considered it a breach of her responsibilities. 1/
My guess is that this email formed part of the case that #USS assembled against Jane and resulted in her being fired on Friday. This is only guesswork, as the report is kept in a locked room and has not (and will not) be published. So what was in Jane's email? 2/
Jane's email, sent on 13 May, contains three occurrences of problems in board papers intended to inform decisions on the valuation. She said that she considered it her fiduciary duty to inform the JNC of these matters, and told the board she was doing so. 3/
Read 14 tweets
BREAKING: Professor Jane Hutton, #USS whistleblower, has been fired from her role as non-executive director of the #USS trustee board.

More to follow.
On the sacking of Jane Hutton from the #USS Board, here's what I understand:

- Sir David Eastwood, chair of the #USS trustee board, conveyed news to Prof Hutton today;
- "Material breaches of obligations" cited as reason for her role as non-exec director being terminated.
- The decision to sack Prof Hutton was made by #USS trustee board and was unanimous. The board is made up of university employer & union representatives.
Prof Hutton was appointed to the board by the University and College Union.
Read 23 tweets
This weekend, Observer economics editor @phillipinman wrote an article on the #USS dispute, which enraged many within @UCU due to the inaccuracies it contained and the inflamatory conclusion.

What was wrong with it? Here are the errors I found. 1/

theguardian.com/business/2019/…
1. A deficit of over £20bn on liabilities of £87bn.

I don't recognise either of these numbers, though it's unclear on which basis the liabilities are supposed to be valued. Self-sufficiency? PPF? Not clear. Perhaps Phillip isn't sure either. 2/
2. The strike is to prevent the scheme's trustees from hiking contribution rates.

This is not true. We're asking employers to pay the increased costs arising from the 2018 valuation, whch rejected the Joint Expert Panel's recommendations. 3/
Read 23 tweets
Two crucial Higher Education ballots open today! With one on pay, equality, job security, and workload, and the other on #USS pensions, both disputes centre on whether employers can afford to pay to fix the issues. So can they? Here are the facts. 1/
Affordability is all about priorities. The question is: how highly are staff prioritised in higher education spending? The answer (in aggregate) is found in the "Higher Education Finance Statistics" report, produced earlier this year by @commonslibrary. 2/ researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefi…
There are two measures of spending on staff that can be looked at: staff costs as a proportion of expenditure, and staff costs as a proportion of income. Data on both is in @commonslibrary report. 3/
Read 12 tweets
Wow. This is good. "We would prefer not to have to negotiate in public like this, but UCU is completely misrepresenting the employer position to union members" claim @UniversitiesUK. But what they have written here is not quite true. 1/
@UniversitiesUK The first offer we received from @UniversitiesUK was an informal, sketchy proposal on Tuesday 20th August at the JNC. This offer was described to us as 9.1% member contributions for two years, followed by 11% in October 2021, conditional on cancellation of the planned ballot. 2/
@UniversitiesUK We asked for this formally written down, and the JNC was adjourned until Thursday 22nd. When the written version arrived on Wednesday 21st August, the cancellation of the strike had hardened into a two year moratorium on strike action. You can imagine our response. 3/
Read 9 tweets
It's been pointed out that the 9.1% offer UUK negotiators made to UCU at the #USS JNC on Thursday contained a 'ballot moratorium clause' (the so-called #bullyclause) which immediately made it unacceptable to UCU negotiators.
But it hasn't been pointed out yet that, in their public statements about the offer yesterday, @adamtickell (the chair of the EPF) and @UniversitiesUK have given inadequate summaries of this clause.
@adamtickell @UniversitiesUK In the written offer made to UCU negotiators on Tuesday (as quoted by negotiator @njshardy) the clause ran in full:
Read 15 tweets
I am pleased to say that yesterday's meeting with @UniversitiesUK and #USS to discuss modelling which might provide a different perspective on the scheme's long-term health than that offered by Test 1 was one of the most productive I've been involved in in my year on the JNC. 1/
With @UniversitiesUK now showing much more interest in this area and on very similar territory to @UCU, it is noticeable that #USS are finally putting resource into the matter instead of the low prioritisation and delays that have met our previous requests. 2/
It illustrates one important point: for all of the claims from @UniversitiesUK on how they have pushed to get the JEP recommendations implemented, their lack of active support for our analysis on Test 1 over the past year has let valuable time slip through our fingers. 3/
Read 7 tweets
@NJSHardy I assume you mean lower even in the absence of 'contingent support'. Where has @TPRgovuk stated openness to this👇?
@NJSHardy @TPRgovuk tPR Dec letter says if you want to take on more investment risk to lower the discount rate & contributions, e.g., along lines of JEP proposals, then you must show that it's sufficiently underwritten with contingent support... 1/
@NJSHardy @TPRgovuk ...preferably in the form of contingent cash contributions with robust triggers. It's clear from tPR's most recent letter that they had sight of USS's CC option 2. It's also safe to assume that the #USS triggers are as demanding as they are on account of tPR guidance. 2/
Read 19 tweets
Since employers are circulating a lot of misinformation about #USS, a little thread on where things stand:

More than one regulator is investigating USS after one of its trustees turned whistleblower, accusing it of covering up evidence and possibly over-inflating the deficit.
If applied in full, the JEP proposals would lead to a contribution rate of 26% or lower. But USS rejected two of the main JEP proposals and insisted on a rate of 33.7%. Its key reason for doing so was debunked by The Pensions Regulator months ago:

UCU and UUK's actuarial advisers, First Actuarial and Aon, regard a 26% valuation as not only acceptable and compliant with regulations, but preferable to the higher rate of 33.7% proposed by USS. Unlike UCU, employers are ignoring their own advisers and standing by USS instead.
Read 14 tweets
USS UPDATE! Last week @UCU's Higher Education conference voted overwhelmingly to ramp up preparations for an industrial action ballot over #USS to begin in September. Why? And what's at stake? Read on... 1/
Firstly, why a ballot? When the Joint Expert Panel's report dropped in September, there was hope from all sides that it had the potential to end the dispute. Adopting its recommendations would mean a shift in philosophy from #USS and rate increases low enough to negotiate on. 2/
Both @UCU and @USSemployers backed the JEP report, the latter with the strikes still fresh in the mind and eager to put the dispute to bed. The issue, as was always likely to be the case, was with #USS itself. 3/
Read 17 tweets
What is going to happen to our #USS pensions? In tweets below, I sketch what I take to be the most likely short-term developments. I’ll try to restrict myself to claims that all sides in the GS election can accept. 1/
In spite of expressed scepticism (see👇), @TPRgovuk indicates they will not take action against #USS Option3, provided both stakeholders (@ucu & @USSEmployers) support it. 2/
.@USSEmployers reluctantly accept #USS Option 3 of status quo DB via 30.7% contribution rate (21.1% employer, 9.6% member) from Oct 2019 till Oct 2021. 3/
Read 12 tweets
"Leaked: Trinity has voted to leave the UK pensions scheme. If two employers exit, staff pensions may be in uncharted territory." Comments below. 1/
varsity.co.uk/news/17530
In addition to the announcement that Trinity will be buying out its past DB liabilities & leaving the #USS pension scheme, this excerpt from a letter from Bill Galvin to @AlistairJarvis provides the most significant revelation👇. 2/
This linked #USS note👇, also dated 7 May, which @USSEmployers released on 9 May, makes vague reference to the yellow-highlighted above, in the blue-highlighted passage below. 3/
ussemployers.org.uk/sites/default/…
Read 9 tweets
A question that @Sam_Marsh101 reports to have arisen in today's JNC meeting: 1/
That's a good question, along lines of a challenge @Sam_Marsh101 posed for Option 3 on another thread. I think my answer to that challenge👇provides a response (mutatis mutandis) to this question. 2/
Below I apply my answer to that challenge more directly to the question @Sam_Marsh101 raises in the embedded tweet in "1/" ☝️. 3/
Read 14 tweets
.@UniversitiesUK @USSEmployers has just published analysis👇they've received from their actuarial advisers @kevinwesbroom, John Coulthard & Andrew Claringbold of Aon. Reactions below. 1/
UUK's actuarial advisers are among the most highly regarded in the field. Employers are very well advised, as is UCU by First Actuarial. These actuaries jointly provided extensive input to the JEP👇. 2/
Chapter 9 of the JEP report from which I quote above reveals that Aon & First Actuarial proposed the specific recommendations of the JEP report. So they are in a very good position to judge how closely #USS has come to meeting these recommendations. 3/
Read 10 tweets
This year VC David Eastwood will be receiving an incentive bonus of £80,000 on top of his salary of £444,0000 (he also earns £90,000 for being chair of the #USS). He lives in a mansion owned by the uni (& pays no rent!), uses a University-owned Jaguar and is driven by a chauffeur
Worth noting is that when the bonus was set in 2015/2016, he was sitting on his own remuneration committee.

Photo 1 from the 2017/2018 accounts - it includes information regarding his bonus.
Photos 2 & 3 are from 2015/2016 & 2016/2017 - they include info re Remuneration cttee.
Meanwhile, staff at @EdgbastonPark Hotel (company set up and owned by UoB) have had a pay rise of 1p/hour, so their salaries match the new Minimum Wage rate (£8.21).

The Hotel are refusing to seek #LivingWage Accreditation and to recognise unions for new staff.
#unionbusters
Read 20 tweets
More on the £19bn solution to the 2018 #USS valuation. £Xbn = long-term reliance on employer covenant = extent to which the assets in the pension fund in 20 yrs time are allowed to fall short of the assets required to fund a low risk gilts+0.75% self-sufficiency portfolio. 1/
The greater £Xbn, the less 'de-risking' of the portfolio from 'return-seeking assets' such as equities & property into bonds & bond-like assets is required, under #USS's understanding of their Test 1. 2/
.@Sam_Marsh101 & I have argued that #USS misunderstands their own Test 1 -- i.e., what I have labelled their 'large & demonstrable mistake'. But in this thread, I do not call into question #USS's understanding of Test 1. Such challenge awaits Phase 2 of JEP. See👇. 3/
Read 23 tweets
Employers have gone a long way towards undoing the damage of their earlier responses to the 2017 valuation. But there remains one large piece of unfinished business, which is revealed by the following statement in USS's recent Q&A with members👇. 1/
Here 👆#USS is referring to employers' greater conservatism than #USS regarding risk in their response to a February 2017 consultation on 'Methodology and Inputs for the 2017 Valuation'. 2/
See this blog 👇on how the current #USS crisis traces to employers' rejection of #USS's proposed growth in reliance in line with general salary, which has given rise to the 'de-risking' of the portfolio which is now driving contribution rates up. 3/
medium.com/@mikeotsuka/uu…
Read 9 tweets
The £19bn solution to the 2018 #USS valuation:

In their autumn consultation, @UniversitiesUK @USSEmployers overwhelmingly accepted the following 4 JEP recommendations, involving an increase in their 'risk appetite': 1/
i. Increase Test 1 reliance on covenant from £10bn to £13bn
ii. Delay onset of 'de-risking' by 10 years
iii. Smooth future service contributions
iv. Allow investment outperformance in calculating deficit recovery contributions (DRCs) 2/
#USS has rejected ii & iii but has accepted i & iv so long as accompanied by automatic triggers of higher contingent contributions (CCs). 3/
Read 13 tweets
The Pensions Regulator taketh away, the Pensions Regulator giveth:

In defending a high 5% 'upper bookend' deficit recovery contribution (DRC) rate for the 2018 valuation, #USS appeals to tPR's recently released Annual Funding Statement👇. 1/
Aon/UUK had previously been pushing for lower DRCs on grounds that this would encounter least resistance from tPR. It will, however, be difficult to reduce DRCs while keeping the recovery period as short as tPR is now calling for. 2/
On the other hand, Aon/UUK had been refraining for pushing hard for adoption of JEP proposals that would increase the discount rate on past accrual, because #USS claimed that such increases would fall afoul of tPR gilts+ benchmarks. 3/
Read 10 tweets
#USS has just circulated a pdf with "responses to questions we did not have time to cover during the webinar itself". But it doesn't include a response to the question I submitted👇. Perhaps they're still working on that one:
This from their response to Q4 is a bombshell in which #USS tries to shift some responsibility for the drive to de-risk onto @UniversitiesUK @USSEmployers 💣😯👀👇.
I believe that #USS is referring to @UniversitiesUK @USSEmployers' failure to endorse the maximum growth in reliance on covenant as CPI+2% (general salary growth) that #USS proposed in its Feb 2017 valuation. See this blog👇.
medium.com/@mikeotsuka/uu…
Read 18 tweets
This motion that @ucu's NDC passed today calls on @UniversitiesUK "to refuse to implement the October 2019 and April 2020 increases" & for an industrial action ballot if UUK refuses to comply. Comments below on why this motion is a really bad idea. 1/
Assuming that these increases aren't superseded by the 2018 valuation, employers would be in clear breach of their legal duties if they refused to pay the contributions spelled out in the 2017 schedule of contributions. 2/
#USS would have a duty to report these breaches to @TPRgovuk, which would have an open and shut case to take enforcement action against employers. 3/
Read 5 tweets
THES piece 👇by @jgro_the on the election for @ucu General Secretary, with a focus on their views on #USS. 1/
timeshighereducation.com/news/who-will-…
In April, on a record turnout of 63.5%, 64% voted to accept the offer to suspend strikes over #USS & set up the Joint Expert Panel. 36% voted to reject that offer. 2/
The JEP issued a magnificent, unanimous report in September which was strongly supportive of the position on the valuation that @ucu & @FirstActuarial have been pressing for years. 3/
Read 16 tweets
While we await #USS's response to the consultation on the 2018 valuation, I'm starting a thread in which I state the limits within which their response will lie & provide my sense of the points within this range which would: 1/
(a) constitute a reasonable response which might lead to a settlement between employer & union or (b) constitute an unreasonable & intransigent response which (in part because of its unreasonableness & intransigence) would run a decent risk of provoking industrial action. 2/
At one limit lies a scenario of maximum intransigence in which #USS completely rejects Aon/UUK's contingent contribution (CC) proposal, does not replace it w/ another CC proposal, & imposes their upper bookend of 33.7% contributions. 3/
Read 30 tweets
As @Sam_Marsh101 mentions 👇, yesterday the #USS trustee met to consider the response of their executives to @UniversitiesUK's proposal regarding contingent contributions. 1/
Especially in the light of the various delays experienced so far in the consultation over the 2018 valuation, I hope #USS doesn't keep members in the dark beyond today, regarding the verdict of the trustee. 2/
A reminder of the earlier delays: #USS originally announced that the consultation would be launched in mid-December & close at the end of January. But the launch was postponed to early January👇. 3/
Read 13 tweets

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