Joanne Segars OBE has agreed to be the Chair of the Joint Expert Panel (JEP) to examine the valuation of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).
Joanne is a widely respected figure in the pensions community. She is currently the Chair of LGPS Central Ltd, which pools the investments of nine large Midlands-based local authority pension funds.
Prior to this, she worked for many years in senior positions in the pensions sector, including as Chief Executive of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) (previously the National Association for Pension Funds (NAPF)) for over 10 years and as Head of Pensions at the Trades Union Congress (TUC). Joanne is a current board member of NOW: Pensions, and the Environment Agency.
The JEP is tasked with agreeing key principles to underpin the future approach of the University and College Union (UCU) and Universities UK (UUK) to the USS valuation. As outlined in the panel's terms of reference, a report from the JEP is expected in September 2018.
The panel was set up under an agreement reached between UCU and UUK at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) in March 2018. Ms Segars was formally recommended to UCU and UUK by ACAS.
Further details, including the appointment of UCU and UUK panellists and the work plan for the JEP, will be announced later this month.
Joanne Segars said:
"I am honoured to have been appointed as the Chair of this important panel. I am acutely aware of how important USS is to the sector and to those who work in it. Given the impact that the valuation has on future benefits and contributions, it is vital that stakeholders have confidence in the way it is carried out and I hope the JEP will make a major contribution to achieving this.
"If we are to be useful to UUK and UCU it is important that the panel members feel able to effectively challenge both each other's views and those of our witnesses in a confidential environment. However, I also recognise that there is, quite rightly, considerable interest both from USS members and employers in the work of the JEP so I intend to provide regular reports about our progress and the issues we are discussing as well as a clear explanation of the evidence upon which we base any recommendations. I believe it is critical that USS members and employers feel that they can influence the work of the JEP and I will warmly welcome submissions on any issue relevant to our work."
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said:
"Chairing the JEP requires someone who understands not just pensions but also the industrial relations environment in which USS operates. Joanne Segars has that unique combination of skills having given many years' service to the trade union movement and also acted as a leading advocate for the interests of pension schemes and their members. It is very important that the JEP enjoys the confidence of USS members and I particularly welcome Joanne's commitment to provide regular reports to stakeholders as well as to seek submissions from fund members and others. UCU is entering the JEP in good faith and we hope that it will enable not just our current dispute to be resolved but also provide a basis for future agreement on the fund."
Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:
"Joanne is widely respected in the pensions world, with over a decade's experience representing both employer and trustee views leading the PLSA (previously NAPF). She has a detailed understanding of the challenges facing pension schemes and will bring considerable experience and leadership to this important role. For employers, the JEP offers an opportunity to build confidence, trust and increase transparency in the valuation process. The work that Joanne will lead provides an opportunity to consider the questions raised about the valuation by scheme members and employers."
USS is one of the largest private pension schemes in the UK and is the principal scheme for academic and comparable staff in UK universities and other higher education and research institutions.
The University and College Union (UCU) represents the interests of USS members.
Universities UK represents the collective view of more than 350 higher education employers.
On Friday 23 March, Universities UK and UCU published the proposal for the Joint Expert Panel.
Earlier in May UCU and UUK agreed to the panel's Terms of Reference.
Further information about the panel's work – including details of the six panellists – will be announced shortly.