The Regional Studies Association is sympathetic to those UK based members who are part of the Universities Superannuation Scheme and who are concerned about the future of their pensions. The Regional Studies Association is an institutional member of the scheme and also has staff members in the scheme. The Association’s Board, with this dual responsibility to the institution and to their staff recognises the requirement for pension scheme change to address the fund deficit. As a consequence the Board have urged Universities UK (UUK) to continue negotiations with the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) and to work collaboratively with them, to produce a range of alternative scenarios for consideration by both sides.

The Regional Studies Association calls on the Pension Regulator to consider their position on Discount Rates, and the knock-on effect to scheme funding. Despite significant growth in the assets of the USS pension fund recently, the liabilities of the scheme have grown at an even faster rate. This is largely due to the discount rate for UK pension funds falling significantly due to extremely low gilt yields and interest rates which are unlikely to continue forever. Whereas elsewhere in Europe a floor has been placed on Discount Rates, this has not happened in the UK and if this was done it may lead to a more realistic view of what scheme “deficits” actually are, and therefore how healthy the USS pension scheme is in reality.

The Regional Studies Association has had two communications with Universities UK on the pensions issue. These statements are available here and here.