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Change announced to STPS contribution increase date

22 March 2019

Members in post-92s in Scotland received an update on Monday 18 March 2019 outlining the union's concerns over the Scottish Teachers' Pension Scheme (STPS) increase in employer contributions. The increase is expected to be met by employers, who are already dealing with constrained budgets. The contribution increases relate to changes imposed by the UK Treasury last year.

UCU has already raised this matter with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance Derek Mackay, with the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and in a joint letter with Universities Scotland to the Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney in October 2018. As a result, the Scottish Government has lobbied the UK Treasury for additional funding or any Barnett consequentials to cover the increased employer costs, given it is the Treasury's political decisions that led to this increase. We have also sought the support of the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education Liz Smith and Labour's education spokesperson Iain Gray who have been sympathetic on the matter. These developments have all been reported to UCU's Scottish Executive committee, however, it remains unclear as to any additional funding coming to the sector to address this cost.

The pensions increase is on top of an already tight funding settlement in the HE sector in Scotland, with the recent Scottish budget delivering real terms cuts to universities. Our Queen Margaret University branch took strike action last month over cuts to staffing. Now at the University of West of Scotland (UWS) the employer has informed all staff that they are facing a range of financial challenges - including the new challenge of finding half a million pounds extra this year and 3 million next for STPS pensions payments. The union is opposing cuts in universities and will campaign vigorously against employers who seek to use the SPTS increases as an excuse for job cuts, and refuse to work constructively with us to address any problems the STPS increase creates.

Since our briefing went to members at the start of the week, the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA), has announced that the employer pension contribution increases will now only take effect from 1 September 2019 and not 1 April 2019, to mirror the timing of increases that employers in England and Wales are facing. However, this means that the pensions increase from September is higher, and employer contributions will now increase to 23%. SPPA indicate this change is to enable Scotland to benefit from the Barnett consequentials that are provided in England, where funding will only be provided from 1 September 2019.

The SPPA information is at this link.

On 22 March, UCU together with Universities Scotland, wrote jointly to the Deputy First Minister John Swinney, to seek further detail on the funding consequentials and assurances that these would go to the affected sectors, including higher education.

In the meantime our industrial aim is to campaign as hard and as publicly as possible in order to signal to all institutions that they should not seek to balance the books by cutting jobs, attacking contracts or other detriment.

All post-92 branches will receive a briefing on the TPS/STPS campaign shortly - the success of the campaign plan will depend upon information from you.

Please let the Scotland office and the national campaigns team know if institutions raise the issue of STPS at your institution.

Mary Senior
Scotland Official

 

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