University of Southampton to close defined benefit scheme to future accrual

University of Southampton

The University of Southampton is to close its defined benefit (DB) pension scheme for non-academic staff to future accrual.

The DB pension scheme, The Pension and Assurance Scheme for Non-Academic Staff (PASNAS), will close to new members as of 31 December 2018. Eligible employees joining the university staff will instead be enrolled into a new defined contribution (DC) arrangement from 1 January 2019.

The university decided to close the DB scheme to future accrual following a 60-day consultation period with active scheme members, which concluded in March 2018. As a result of the consultation, the DB scheme will remain unchanged for the scheme’s 2,000 current members. This decision was ratified by the university’s council on 9 May 2018.

The consultation, which involved current and potential PASNAS members as well as relevant trade unions, saw more than 730 employees attend briefing sessions in January and February, with around 270 emails being received.

The University of Southampton predicts that higher contribution rates may be required for the DB scheme, in order to deliver the same level of benefits. This decision will be delayed until the July 2018 triennial valuation has been completed.

According to the trade union Unison, the university originally proposed closing the PASNAS scheme from 1 August 2018, to replace it entirely with a DC arrangement.

A spokesperson at the University of Southampton said: “The decision to keep the pension scheme the same may mean that the University and PASNAS members have to pay higher contributions to maintain the same level of benefits. However, the university has listened to feedback from members [and] eligible members and will delay any decision on potential future rises to contributions until the outcome of the 31 July 2018 triennial valuation is known. This process will take between nine to 15 months to conclude and the university will contact members with further details in due course.”

Adrian Dolby, a representative at Unison, added: “We welcome the change as a massive step in the right direction, but we will keep campaigning for improved pensions for all. Everybody deserves a decent pension.”