Meeting of the Joint Expert Panel: 26 November 2019

The Panel are finalising their second report and are confident of publishing soon. The Panel wishes to thank all those who have contributed to their work. This has been invaluable as has developed its thoughts, the wider understanding and appreciation of the views of stakeholders.

The Panel discussed and reviewed the draft report and its core recommendations.

Meeting of the Joint Expert Panel: 31 October 2019

The Panel explored further analysis on possible alternative paths to the valuation and wider considerations of sustainability of the Scheme.

The drafting process and testing of conclusions is in the final stages and should complete their  work by the end of the year.

Update on second report

The JEP was originally aiming to provide its second report in September 2019. However the Panel is still working and considering evidence and is not yet in a position to report. With the agreement of UCU and UUK the report will therefore be published later this year.

The Panel hopes that its recommendations, once published, will have a positive influence on all stakeholders and we will communicate further once we are ready to issue our report.

Meeting of the Joint Expert Panel: 24 September 2019

The Panel heard further evidence from the USS Trustee and Executive on their approach to the next valuation and their approach to stakeholders and process.

The Panel continued their work on examining evidence relating to alternative pathways to the valuation including the implications of proposed regulatory changes by Government.

In addition to this work the Panel considered the intersection of this work with the complex picture of membership profile within the sector.

Meeting of the Joint Expert Panel: 4 September 2019

The Panel recognised that due to the remaining evidence to consider on alternative paths to the valuation that the report would not be completed by the end of September as hoped for. The Panel acknowledged this to both sponsoring stakeholders with regret.

The Panel heard evidence from PwC in their role as advisors to the scheme on the strength of the covenant. The situation involving the departure of a single sponsoring employer from the scheme with large assets prompted a range of questions for the Panel to consider in their earlier discussions on scheme governance and the mutual nature of the Scheme.

The Panel wish to thank the Trustee for agreeing to share the advice of the scheme advisors and their contribution to their evidence base.

Meeting of the Joint Expert Panel: 23 August 2019

The Panel considered further written evidence from the Trustee around risk appetite and approach to the valuation and the extent to which there is a shared understanding between the interested parties. The Panel considered the evidence gathered to provide a route to this goal.

The Panel has received evidence on the implications of potential new legislation and will consider all possibilities within the legislative framework as it develops including the proposed long-term funding target.

The results of the commissioned qualitative member research was presented to the Panel and they look forward to including this in their final report as it enriches the evidence gathered from interviews with all parties.

The remaining meetings of the Panel will consider their report and remain of the view that the substantive work will be completed on schedule by the autumn.

Meeting of the Joint Expert Panel: 1 August 2019

The Panel considered updates on the 2018 valuation and a rule change relating to the conditions by which a scheme employer could leave the scheme. In addition the Panel reviewed the latest round of structured interviews with stakeholders.

This meeting received an initial top line report from Ignition House on the findings from focus groups with Scheme members. The final report will be considered at the Panel’s next meeting.

This project has facilitated a wider consideration of the views of Scheme members.

The Panel reviewed the structure of contribution rates in other Schemes with an interest in HE.

The Panel has also received access to a further range of papers from the Trustee and extends their thanks to the trustee for their assistance in understanding better the decisions taken so far.

Meeting of the Joint Expert Panel: 1 & 10 July 2019

The Panel has considered recent developments in the Scheme, including the impact of rule changes relating to the withdrawal of sponsoring employers and the strength of the covenant.

A number of late submissions were shared with the Panel and continue to inform their understanding of the range of views on governance, sustainability and alternative paths to the valuation. As part of this work the Panel held evidence First Actuarial and AON, actuarial advisers to UCU and UUK respectively.

In between meetings a series of interviews have been held with members of the Trustee board.

The Panel held evidence sessions with The Pensions Regulator. TPR covered a range of issues to describe their approach to regulation and clarify their approach to the Scheme with regards to governance and long term sustainability. The Panel are grateful for their time and assisting the continued work of the Panel.

USS Executive and the Scheme Actuary met with the Panel to discuss the governance of the scheme and long term sustainability.

Recent meetings have considered a range of written and verbal evidence on:
• Developing an approach to future valuations that is clear (and clearly understood by, and holds the confidence of, all stakeholders) and which can deliver both a sustainable scheme and a shared set of principles.
• different paths to the valuation of technical provisions and other aspects of the valuation methodology, including Test 1
• questions of risk sharing and the provision of suitable future pensions in line with the Panel’s TOR.

Meeting of the Joint Expert Panel: 24 June 2019

The Panel considered updates from stakeholders on recent developments with regards to USS and the 2018 valuation.

The Panel also received feedback on interviews conducted with stakeholders and USS.

The Panel wishes to thank all individuals and organisations who submitted evidence. Responses covered a wide range of issues including: alternative models for the sustainability of the scheme; mutuality; and consideration of the impact of proposed scheme rule changes relating to the departure of a sponsoring employer from the Scheme.

The Panel have commissioned qualitative member research to enrich to the existing evidence base.

An update from the chair

The Panel would like to reiterate its latest call for evidence and reassure all stakeholders that the Panel is on track to publish its second report in September 2019.

The Panel thanks all those who have contributed so far and calls for evidence to aid the second part of this phase of its work.

This call for evidence focuses on:

  1. potential principles that could underpin future valuations and support the scheme’s sustainability;
  2. alternative paths to the valuation; and
  3. questions of how risk is shared in the scheme, including approaches to contributions and mutuality.

You can find the call for evidence here.

If you still wish to submit evidence in response to the Panel’s first call for evidence, which looked at the valuation process and governance arrangements, please feel free to do so. Please ensure that submissions reach us by the deadline below.

Please submit your comments to: submit@ussjep.org.uk by June 14 2019.

Joanne Segars OBE