Changes to the DC Scheme

The recent announcement by the JNC that the threshold for the DC scheme will be reduced from £60k to £40k on 1/4/22 means that many more than the current 37% of active members will suddenly join the DC section. We think this presents a real opportunity to raise the level of awareness among USS members of ethical lifestyle funds since DC members can choose which fund their contributions go into. (I know these changes are not good for members and opposed by many but the proposed implementation date is April 1st 2022 so we have to start planning for the change even if also opposing it)

The member survey conducted last year found that among DC members approximately 40 % were not aware of their choice of funds, and of those who were, another 40% or so didn’t know which fund they were in. Since the ethical funds have outperformed the default option for the last four years, perhaps USS has a fiduciary as well as ethical reason to raise awareness, and hence, member satisfaction.

We are trying now to persuade USS to improve the way that it communicates with members in the DC scheme about the options they have to invest their pensions. This has been described by USS in previous meetings as ‘low hanging fruit” and we have good reason to think they may take action. However USS will not make the ethical fund the default so we have to persuade them to inform members about their choices better.

Currently USS does not inform members when they cross the DC threshold so we need to find out what individual universities do.  This could have a strong impact on USS. So I need your help with this small task:  

  1. sample your own university’s webpages to find out what information is presented there about the DC scheme and fund choices
  2. contact your pension officers and ask if members are informed by them or payroll about fund choices when they cross the DC scheme earnings threshold
  3. look at the USS webpages and to comment about the presentation of information on the DC scheme fund choices. 

Then send me a brief summary as to how you get on (  Please do this by end of this week.

We are asking USS for an urgent meeting to discuss improved communication about DC fund choices and we need some case studies of the problems outlined above

I will collate, report back and compile a report for USS.  Increasing the numbers of DC members who choose the ethical fund is an important step forward.

Thanks Paul Kinnersley, Co-ordinator Ethics4USS/USS Divest

2 thoughts on “Changes to the DC Scheme

  1. Dear Paul Kinnersley,

    Thanks for your interesting post. I am actually retired, and in receipt of a USS pension, so is there any point in me contacting the Open University, who arranged the pension?

    I don’t know what DC stands for?

    Sorry to be so ignorant.

    I really support what you are doing,

    thank you very much.

    Bridget Yendell



    1. Bridget Hi – DC means defined contributions – this is in contrast to DB – Defined Benefits – defined benefits is the old style USS pension where you were guaranteed the defined benefit of a certain proportion of your final salary. Now members earning over £ 59 000 have these contributions paid into what is know as the DC part of the scheme – or ‘Investment builder’ and they can choose which fund the money goes into – ethical/non ethical. Problem is very few bother to look where their money is going so by default it goes into non ethical. Although you are retired and so this discussion doesn’t apply to you, if it is easy to look on the open university’s pages about pension contributions it would be useful for us to know if they explain about where DC contributions go. Many thanks for supporting our campaign. Paul


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