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I've been catching up w latest on CDC pensions after yesterday's report from Work & Pensions Cttee… #USSstrike

TL;dr: I predict even more enthusiasm from UUK about CDC in coming months as part of long-term plan to remove DB to reduce pension liabilities 1/
REMINDER: Collective Defined Contribution (CDC) pensions share risk *between* the members of the scheme. CDC means that employers are not exposed to the risks associated with DB plans. i.e. Risk is transferred from employer ---> employees… 2/
The 16 July report from Work & Pensions Cttee gave enthusiastic thumbs up to enabling CDC for Royal Mail "in a way which will allow other companies to follow suit". Report speaks of a "new wave of collective pensions in the UK"… 3/
Read 10 tweets
"The working paper provides the required proof & argument against the flawed valuation method adopted by #USS. Using an appropriate valuation technique, the USS is found to be in surplus as large as £10bn ...": Woon Wong #USSbriefs34 on the phantom deficit…
Wong: "many actuarial practices should be reviewed ... [T]here is a need to examine the economics of risk & return from a long term perspective ... given ... low interest rates, de-risking can be suboptimal & extremely expensive" #USSbriefs34 working paper…
Wong insists that the #USS valuation can be resolved if there is appropriate time given to it: "say 2 to 3 years of proper research & discussion between all relevant academics, the actuary industry & tPR (of course these include UUK and UCU)" #USSbriefs34 Quotation about 'all is required is time' -- see text of tweet
Read 11 tweets
We at @USSbriefs HQ have spent lots of weekends & evenings getting our first briefs ready for OpenUPP. Our efforts to Open Up the #USS Joint Expert Panel start for real today, as we challenge the epistemic landscape of #USS #pensions dispute #USSstrike 1/ screen shot of press release linked to in tweetscreen shot of press release linked to in tweet
Our first #OpenUPP2018 brief is 'Opening up the USS Joint Expert Panel', by me. I explain why we at @USSbriefs are so committed to Opening Up the #JEP, & provide thumbnail reflections on the 7 people who make up that closed panel… 2/
Our second #OpenUPP2018 brief is an 'Open Letter from Academics for Pensions Justice' (@ForPension) which demands that #USS provides full disclosure of data, assumptions & the modelling approach underpinning the 2017 valuation to JEP… #USSbriefs26 3/
Read 4 tweets
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Every #USS member should read @FixingEconomics's "Reckless Prudence:
How to break a pension system" (link). Some quotes and comments in the thread below. 1/

Intro to piece: "Were British university staff right to strike over changes to their
pensions system? We were asked this question a few weeks ago, by one of our clients. Our short answer was: Yes, it looks like the academics were
probably right to strike." 2/
Re #USS/@UniversitiesUK proposals involving "increased contributions, reduced benefits, moving to a defined contribution model, and ‘de-risking’ the investment
strategy by switching from equities into bonds", @FixingEconomics writes: 3/
Read 16 tweets
Your regular UUK update (or: Keeping an 👀 on the rolling out of the marketised vision of UK HE)

So, yesterday, UUK held an event on "Improving Student Retention"… #UUKSR #YesUniCan
The proud sponsor of "Improving Student Retention" was Civica, 'the leading provider of business-critical software, digital solutions & managed services for our public sector and regulated markets' Screen shot of Civica tweet quoted in the tweet
Civica also contributed to the workshop with a session on "Your data, valuable insights: Using data to drive improved student retention"… #UUKSR Screen shot of Civica session at the workshop
Read 9 tweets
This is fascinating by @MikeOtsuka on logic & motivations of #USS Test 1 (& how Test 1 might be met without de-risking), based on talk at @bsaweel Pensions Symposium. We've invited Mike to contribute longer piece for @OpenUPP2018 at @USSbriefs… #OpenUPP2018 screen shot of part of blog post linked to in website
.@MikeOtsuka's piece links to #USS discussion document sent as response to a Qu & challenge from Mike (sent by USS & linked to a meeting Mike had w USS executives on 23 March 2018). This adds to archive of #USS materials (cc. @ForPension)… #OpenUPP2018
The #USS discussion document ("Response to Prof Michael Otsuka for discussion purposes") is dated 22 March 2018 with authors Guy Coughlan, Jeff Rowney, Steve Towers. Author in document properties is Jeff Rowney… #OpenUPP2018
Read 16 tweets
In my efforts to understand configurations of discourse & representation around UK pensions in 21st century, I've been fascinated, today, by Pendragon's competition, running since 2003, titled the "Art of Pensions" 1/
#USSstrike screen shot of website linked to in tweet
The Pendragon "Art of Pensions" is a full-scale competition – with a whole raft of categories (e.g. see…). The winners & long-listed entries are all available for perusal on the Pendragon site 2/ screen shot from website linked to in tweet
The archive stretches from the early 21st century, through the economic collapse of 2008, & up to 2016 (I'm not sure what happened to the competition in 2017).

In addition to visual materials themselves, you can search by name of artist (some appear several times) & company 3/
Read 8 tweets
30 min suspension of #UCU18 is up. National Head of Democratic Services (staff member) has come back (not elected President) to tell us staff not willing to come back in yet: we've been told Congress cannot continue. Bedlam now as ppl work out if absent chair can be challenged >>
Being argued rules allow for #UCU2018 Congress2continue in these circs but mics are off. Impossible to hear properly. Also being proposed can't have proper Congress now, so could have a discussion about what's going on instead. Counterargument "Go Congress or go home" 🤦🏻‍♀️
Staff working at venue have confirmed mics can't be turned on as Unite walkout means the ppl they've been working with aren't wiling to return. Delegates attempting human mic. Discussing continuing #UCU2018 Congress vs discussion way fwd noting democratic issue + quorum (150)
Read 21 tweets
Some thoughts on the antics of #TheSallyHuntTendency at #UCU2018.
As I said last year, when is a Union not a union? When it’s led by Sally Hunt.…
“A union that has failed to stop the cuts to its members’ pay since 2009, and shows no ability to offer meaningful opposition to the threats heading their way, stretches the definition of the word “union” to breaking point.”
Read 9 tweets
I've been reading up on the 3 UUK nominees for the UUK–UCU Joint Expert Panel: Ronnie Bowie, Sally Bridgeland, and Chris Curry… #USSStrike 1/
Let's start with Ronnie Bowie, Partner at Hymans Robertson, who 'works as a Scheme Actuary & Investment Adviser to a number of large private & public sector schemes and has built a reputation as a respected expert witness'…
I've been going back to 10 or so years, looking at how actuarial science is discussed before and after the 2008 economic crisis. I am outsider to the field – approaching it as someone who researches recent histories & geographies of various human sciences
Read 41 tweets
IMPORTANT #USS UPDATE! Friday saw two big decisions made with big implications for the future of USS. One took place at UCU's HEC, the other at the UCU/UUK Joint Negotiating Committee. You need to be aware of what happened at both! READ ON... 1/ @JosephineCumbo @jgro_the
SECOND MEETING FIRST: the JNC agreed (yes, agreed!) to formally revoke the January imposition of a defined contribution scheme. This is an important moment! DC is gone, and not coming back. This makes concrete previous loose pledges from @AlistairJarvis & UUK. 2/
It is expected that #USS will now prepare to implement 'cost-sharing' to start in April 2019. This will leave benefits unchanged (at least up to the DC threshold), but will mean big contribution rises. See thread by @MikeOtsuka: 3/
Read 14 tweets
I've been thinking about trust. @AlistairJarvis's desire, on part of @UniversitiesUK is to 'rebuild trust' damaged during the dispute. He uses that phrase both in his letter to Sally Hunt () & in the leaked email to VCs ()
Yesterday, Prof Kris Olds, UW Madison (@GlobalHigherEd) argued that 'Universities UK could always advocate to become subject to the Freedom of Information Act to help build trust, its reputation, & its brand' – which got me thinking a lot more about trust
Onora O'Neill, in her work on trust, famously argues:

trust 'is well placed if directed to matters in which others are honest, competent & reliable, & poorly directed if directed at matters in which others are dishonest, incompetent and unreliable'…
Read 22 tweets
In the end I voted no. I didn’t have confidence in #UUK to rebuild trust on its own terms. I didn’t feel able to vote for a panel whose terms of reference were not laid down in advance. I didn’t think these were unreasonable demands then.
I don’t think they are unreasonable demands now. However, it is clear how much vigilance will be required on how #UUK will seek to shape process. But it is not clear to me now who will provide this and how it will happen.
Having put this to the ballot I want @ucu to now tell us the key processes, roles and points at which we as branches, #uss members, and university employees will be able to shape next stages in #ucustrike. But I am not confident here either.
Read 4 tweets
Unhappy about proposed #USS pension cut?

Not convinced current #UUK offer protects you from significant & long term pension cuts. What if I told you that it's not the only cut your #USS pension has experienced 👇👇👇 #USSstrikes
Cut 1: Employer pension contribution holidays

Between 1983-1997, employers cut their contributions from 18.55% to 14%, resulting in an estimated £7 billion being lost from the value of the fund.
Cut 2: Closure of USS as a final salary (FS) scheme

By closing FS scheme in 2015, & moving members into a lower value DB scheme, it is estimated the value of a #USS pension was cut by 20% on average.
Read 5 tweets
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

#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
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
Q: If the expert panel cannot reach agreement, what do employers understand will be the fallback position on the valuation?

A: The valuation is the responsibility of the USS Trustee (h/t @JosephineCumbo) 1/
The USS trustee board 'delegates day to day responsibility for the mgmt of the scheme to the group executive' (h/t @CathyJenkins101). The group executive comprises the following… 2/ screen shot of web link showing list of names in group executive
.@JosephineCumbo has just responded saying: "I have asked #USS what its fallback position is if the panel cannot reach agreement. Am awaiting a response."
Read 10 tweets
Three key figures of the #USS pensions dispute were working together in Birmingham on the SMT back in 2012: Alistair Jarvis, David Eastwood and Adam Tickell.

All three are in this wonderful issue of @BuzzUniBham:…
Alistair Jarvis, sans beard, was the Director of Communications & Marketing.

From "Enhancing Birmingham's Reputation" to "Trashing UniversitiesUK's Reputation" in 5 short years.

If only he had stuck to Happiness Lectures ...
Here is Birmingham's VC weighing in on the hot topic of the day - whether or not Birmingham should have an elected mayor.

Prof Sir David Eastwood is now the Chairman of the Board of #USS Trustees. He's also on the Board of UUK, as a "President's nominee" (Prof Dame Janet Beer)
Read 6 tweets
#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
Don't usually like massive threads, but want to expand on this condensed reaction Friday's offer/agreement on #USS re
#USSstrike #ucustrike #Strikefor USS #NoCapitulation #NoDetriment 1/9
While I agree with all the #NoDetriment statements about being naive to trust UUK/'indepdendent' panel, & related demands/amendements suggested for the statement, believing that a more specific clause would be the end of the struggle is equally naive. 2/9
We could strike until we got everything we wanted writ down,but at some point we'll go back to work (!)&then inevitably pension manager crooks will continue attempts to subvert the agreement, inc using requirements of the pensions regulator to continually revisit arrangements 3/9
Read 9 tweets
I'm glad we have more time to consider the new proposed #USS deal. But I think what we have in time, we lack in detail. It's a victory I think, in as far as how much #USSStrike has pushed UUK back. But I have deep concerns #nodetriment #nocapitulation
I think the proposal doesn't offer the guarantees it should, the ones we deserve. Status quo till April 2019 is a smokescreen - we were always getting that so it's a misleading headline #USSStrike #nodetriment #nocapitulation
I'm very concerned that as @JosephineCumbo has revealed, UUK and UCU seem to have very different ideas about what's actually on the table. And if there's not a single interpretation then there's too much room for error and backsliding IMO #USSStrike #nocapitulation #nodetriment
Read 8 tweets
Just wondering why @UniversitiesUK & #uss can’t just back down now on DC? Why is a new panel & more delay & stress for all of us a victory? Are we really getting excited that they have said the panel would recognise our concerns re DB? #nocapitulation #UCUStrike #ussstrike
2/ is this what we’re losing 14 days pay over? Another panel & no guarantees? After we basically showed up the problems w de-risking, huge potential equalities issues (which they can’t realistically address before 2019 bc they appear to be starting from zero on that score ...
3/ ... and they know we’re onto them re financialisation of pensions, & we all now are talking about the DB/DC fight, which has immense implications for other occupational pensions ...
Read 7 tweets
Hard evidence of collusion in Oxford!

Pembroke College, Oxford have just released their response to the UUK September survey on #USS pension risk ...

... and it is word-for-word the same as the University of Oxford's!

But it gets worse 😮 ... (THREAD 👇)
Let's begin by reviewing the evidence.

Pembroke College, Oxford:…

University of Oxford:…
But it gets worse. The Bursar of Pembroke College claims here to be presenting an authorized institutional view!

He EXCLUDES the majority of members of the Governing Body from decision-making, on the grounds that they are members of the #USS pension!
Read 9 tweets
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