Do you think new staff on Grades 1 to 5 should have a secure defined benefit pension to retire on?

University management don’t think so. 

What’s happening?

Senior management plan to close the Durham University Pensions Scheme (DUPS) to new starters from November 1st of this year. What does that mean and why does it affect you?

DUPS is your local defined benefit pension scheme for employees on grades 1 to 5. It guarantees how much you earn when you retire. Currently there are two options, DUPS and the less generous defined contribution scheme Aviva. Management propose to close DUPS to new staff and create a new “Durham University Retirement Savings Plan” (DURSP).

DURSP would be a defined contributions scheme only. This is a more risky form of pension, but university management like it because that risk goes to workers and not to the employer. In a defined contribution scheme, employers don’t have to guarantee how much you will get to retire on. You only get a lump sum depending on how much your retirement savings are worth when you retire. That means your pension can be much lower than you expect if you are unlucky when you retire (e.g., if you retired during the 2008 financial crash).

University bosses are only proposing to change the pensions for new staff. This is sneaky. It assumes you don’t care about new staff who will come into the university after 1st November 2024. These changes will create a two tier workforce with newer staff having a pension that will be worth thousands of pounds less in retirement. There is also a risk to the long-term future of DUPS as fewer people paying in over time could affect whether the scheme will continue at all.

Other universities’ management have made these changes in the same way. They claimed that they would keep better pensions for existing staff and only make changes for new staff. But just a few years later those employers cut or closed the better defined benefit pension scheme completely for older staff too. 

This is why it is important to oppose these changes now.

What can I do? 

  1. Sign the petition to oppose the changes and share it with colleagues
    Petition · Stop Durham University management closing the Durham University Pension Scheme (DUPS) – Durham, United Kingdom ·
  2. Fill in the feedback form about the changes
    We recommend voting no to question 3 to send a clear message. If you want some suggestions with possible comments for question 4 and question 5, please see this google document
    Sample responses to DUPS survey – Google Docs
  3. Please spread the word about these changes and tell your colleagues to do one and two.
  4. Join a union. You can join any one of the campus unions: UCU, UNITE, GMB or UNISON. UCU will be opposing these changes strongly.