UCL's Director of Finance, Phil Harding, endorsed that UUK adopt its current position and take away our DB pensions - meanwhile, Senior Management get bonuses!

After a recent meeting of Academic Board members that expressed lack of confidence in the current Governance of UCL,  the surprising news was released that members of Senior Management at UCL receive performance related Bonuses on top of their pay packet. In fact Rex Knight revealed publicly what his Bonus was for this year.

In this context we can judge the performance of UCL Director of Finance, Phil Harding who, at Universities UK (UUK), the employer's organisation, has been supporting the moves that will lead us to lose our DB pension. UCL, and its finance director, then are one of the institutions that endorsed the move at UUK to do this. See below, which was obtained by FOI requests (we thank Mike Otsuka for flagging this analysis to us). Those who are in the bonuses league are endorsing moves to take away the pensions of those who are not (reflect on that for a moment).
UCL's response to the September consultation of UUK members was written by Phil Harding (UCL Director of Finance, and lead negotiator or UUK on USS).
This response has been accessed through FOI requests. This was released on the 25 Jan (2 days after the UUK final meeting with UCU on the Joint Negotiating Committee of USS). You can see it here:


In his response to the consultation, Harding calls for 100% Defined Contributions for this valuation, combined with "the hope that DB could be re-introduced at some point in the future when circumstances permit" (which is, to say the least, fanciful). This is the position that UUK ultimately adopted in its tabled proposals.

So, in late September or early October Harding was already calling for 100% DC for this valuation. His letter says: "We had hoped, like others I’m sure, that the hybrid model would offer sufficient flexibility to endure but we accept that the scale of DB benefit that could realistically be afforded and sustained is too small for this to remain a credible solution." This was written before there was any indication that USS would revise the valuation in a more conservative direction in November, in a manner that rendered DB even more costly.

Harding accepts the level of investment risk USS proposed in September, but with significant misgivings: "We believe that the level of risk proposed by the USS trustee is at the outer edge of our appetite.  We would prefer to see a less riskier position adopted but are able to accept the trustee’s proposal.  The assumption that interest rates will rise by more than is priced into markets is a particular concern."

He declares 18% contributions the upper limit. Again, this is the UUK position.

Note: In response to the FOI request, UCL released their draft response to the consultation on the valuation on 25 January -- two days after the JNC meeting. They maintain that they did not retain a copy of the actual response they submitted online! But "the attached is a draft of the response; this was circulated to the Senior Management Team for comment and although there may have been some changes to the final submission these are likely to have been minor." The response is signed by Phil Harding.

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