The University of Southampton has confirmed plans to close the Pension and Assurance Scheme for Non-Academic Staff (PASNAS) to new members at the end of December.
The decision comes after a 60-day consultation on initial proposals to shut the scheme entirely from August this year, and was ratified by the university's council on 9 May after considering feedback from members.
Under the revised plan, continuing members may be asked to pay higher contributions for the same level of benefits, while new staff will be able to join the university's non-auto-enrolment defined contribution (DC) provision.
However, this decision has been suspended pending the outcome of the scheme's 31 July 2018 valuation, a university spokesperson confirmed. The process will take a minimum of nine months.
The scheme provides benefits for around 2,100 support staff, such as cleaners, caterers, librarians, and exams officers, and had a £104m accounting deficit as of 31 July 2017. At its most recent triennial valuation, dated 31 July 2015, there was an 81% funding level on a technical provisions basis.
Unison had previously warned members would face a two-thirds pension cut if the scheme was closed and members were moved into the DC scheme instead.
Unison head of pensions Glyn Jenkins said the university's change in approach was a "significant victory" and shows "change is possible".
Another representative for the union, Adrian Dolby, added: "We welcome the change in the plans as a massive step in the right direction, but we will keep campaigning for improved pensions for all. Everybody deserves a decent pension."
When initially announced, the university had blamed a decline in macro-economic conditions, as well as changing longevity assumptions, for the need to reform the scheme.
Defined benefit (DB) schemes that provide GMPs must revisit and, where necessary, top-up historic cash equivalent transfer values (CETVs) that have been calculated on an unequal basis, a landmark court judgment said last week.
Regulators must act now to impose some "proper regulation" to stop another defined benefit (DB) transfer advice disaster, saysTim Sargisson.
Opportunities for defined benefit (DB) schemes to pursue investment approaches that help repair the UK’s economy cannot stand in the way of improving member outcomes, Aegon says.
More members transferred out of defined benefit (DB) pension schemes in October after September's record lows while values were surprisingly stable, according to XPS Pensions Group's Transfer Watch.
Joanna Smith says trustees will need to accurately identify if covenant issues are short-term affordability concerns, or the start of more material deterioration.