USS raises concerns over use of 'unvalidated' pension modellers

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) trustee has warned scheme members to avoid relying on pension modellers that have not been reviewed or validated by the trustee, amid persisting concerns over the potential impact of upcoming changes to the scheme.

The trustee issued a statement to acknowledge that a number of members have been using an alternative pensions calculator to project the impact of the changes to the scheme, which were recently voted through by the scheme’s Joint Negotiating Committee.

However, it warned that this modeller has not been reviewed or validated by the trustee, emphasising that it is “not affiliated in any way with the trustee or USS”, but was instead developed independently by academics at the University of Bristol.

In particular, the scheme noted that the calculator only projects future pensions being built up, and includes a number of assumptions on DC investment returns, salary growth and inflation, that in some cases differ “significantly” to those approved by Universities UK for employer consultation.

In light of this, the trustee stated that it would “be of concern” if members were to rely on those modeller outputs for decision making, encouraging members to instead use theconsultation modeller to understand the impact of the changes on their USS benefits.

It also confirmed that this tool will be shortly replaced by an updated benefit illustrator, to be made available on the USS website from early April.

“We recommend that members speak to a financial adviser before making, or refraining from making, any decisions in relation to their USS benefits," the trustee added.

Changes to the scheme have faced continued scrutiny, with a further round of ballots to be held at a number of universities this week, following previous industrial action in February and December of last year.

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