UUK’s serious misrepresentations of UCU’s proposals (Pt I)

Employer contributions would not rise beyond 25.2% from April 2023 and member contributions would return to 9.8%

Michael Otsuka
3 min readFeb 10, 2022


[See “UUK’s escalating misrepresentation of UCU’s proposals (Pt II)” for a follow up to this post.]

What follows is a slightly redacted email I’ve sent to UUK and USS, addressed to Stuart McLean, Head of UUK Pensions

From: Otsuka,MH
Sent: 10 February 2022 17:30
To: Stuart McLean; Judith Fish; Phil Harding; Justine Mercer; ‘Anthony Odgers’; Costello, Carol; ‘Cliff Vidgeon’; ‘Deepa Driver’; ‘Margaret Monckton’; ‘Marion Hersh’; ‘Paul Bridge’; ‘Sam Marsh’; Sharon Moore; ‘Woon Wong’; Nicola Lee; Mike Shore-Nye; Jo Grady
Cc: Bill Galvin; Mel Duffield; Steven Golden
Subject: Serious misrepresentations of UCU’s proposals
Importance: High

Dear Stuart,

The following in bold from your linked webpage constitute serious misrepresentations of UCU’s proposals:

“Under UCU’s proposal, employer contributions would rise from 21.4% of salary, to 23.7% from April, to 25.2% in October and then increase further every 6 months, until they reach 29.1% of pay in April 2024. For scheme members, contributions would go up from 9.8% to 11% of salary this April, and again to 11.8% of salary in October 2022 — with further increases every 6 months until member contributions reach 13.9% of pay in April 2024.”

“This consultation asks employers to confirm whether they will provide the necessary covenant support and their willingness to pay an additional c£200 million annually from April 2022, and an extra £330 million from this October 2022 — and ultimately c£700 million more each year from April 2024 — on top of the current USS pensions cost of around £2 billion per annum.”

As we have made clear in discussion {…}, the escalating schedule of contributions contained in the JNC specification (which implements the second of the three elements of our proposals) would be superseded from April 2023, as spelled out in the third element of our proposals:

1. That UUK call on USS to issue a moderately prudent, evidence-based valuation of the financial health of the scheme as at 31 March 2022, to be issued for consultation in June (at the latest);

2. That employers agree to provide the same level of covenant support as for their own proposals to facilitate a cost-sharing of current benefits throughout the 2022/23 scheme year, starting 1 April 2022 at 11% member/23.7% employer until 1 October 2022, and 11.8%/25.2% thereafter;

3. That employers agree to pay a maximum 25.2% and members a maximum of 9.8% from 1 April 2023 so as to secure current benefits or, if not possible, the best achievable as a result of the call on USS to issue a moderately prudent, evidence-based valuation.

As neither the first nor the third element is a decision for JNC now, they are not included in papers for tomorrow’s meeting. Given its content, the third element is a matter of bilateral agreement between UCU and UUK rather than JNC decision now. It is only when such agreement gets translated, down the road, into a schedule of contributions for a package of benefits, that we will reach the point of the need to table formal JNC papers to execute the third element.

It appears that your misrepresentation has been conveyed to employers in the launch of your consultation on our proposals. This is a matter of deep concern and regret. I am also puzzled by the existence of such an egregious misrepresentation of our proposals. Why?





Michael Otsuka

Professor of Philosophy, Rutgers. Previously on UCU national negotiating team for USS pensions.