The publication date of the Universities Superannuation Scheme’s (USS) 2020 valuation has been pushed back until September.
The decision - announced today (24 August) - comes six months after Universities UK (UUK) said it was re-evaluating its methodology and investment strategy for the scheme.
UUK, which acts as employer representative to USS, said this was in response to serious funding concerns for the scheme's defined benefit (DB) section. UUK used a discussion document on 9 March to outline a proposed pre- and post-retirement dual discount rate approach to funding in the future.
Today, a USS spokeswoman told Professional Pensions that a delay had been confirmed after a series of discussions with UUK last week following the government's controversial approach to A-level grading following the exam disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
"We can confirm that, in light of the urgent and difficult matters relating to A-level results and admissions, we have agreed with UUK to a short postponement," she said.
"We have been clear throughout the process that, given the unprecedented circumstances in play, the timetable for the 2020 valuation will be kept regular under regular review."
USS has now agreed to reschedule the formal launch of the technical provisions consultation with UUK to Monday 7 September.
"Employers will then have eight weeks (to 30 October) to consider and make clear their views to UUK, who will provide a consolidated response to us thereafter," the spokeswoman added.
It has been a difficult year for USS - the UK's largest pension scheme with £68bn in assets - after two weeks of strikes at more than 70 universities under the umbrella of UUK in February.
The strikes came as part of a long-running dispute regarding the sustainability of the USS and related to rising costs for members, as well as union members' pay, quality, casualisation, and workloads dating back to UUK's 2017 decision to close the DB section of USS to future accrual.
USS has also faced strong backlash from members over its commitment to global climate protection efforts this year.
The scheme confirmed in June that it will pull its funds in tobacco manufacturing and thermal coal mining - specifically where this makes up more than 25% of revenues - as part of a two-year divestment process which will include companies involved in landmines, the production of cluster munitions, and white phosphorus.
Potential changes to the way the Retail Prices Index (RPI) is calculated and reported could cause assets to fall by between £60bn and £130bn, according to various estimates.
A number of regulatory and economic factors including a tougher line on scheme funding from The Pensions Regulator (TPR) means interest in the use of contingent strategies will grow, Lane Clark & Peacock (LCP) finds.
The true level of flexibility for defined benefit (DB) schemes that take the ‘bespoke’ option laid out in the proposed DB funding code needs further clarification, the industry has said.
Coats Group has agreed with its UK pension trustees to defer the payment of its remaining deficit recovery contributions (DRCs) for 2020.
Defined benefit (DB) transfer values continued to increase to yet another record high during July but the number of people opting to exit final salary schemes remains steady, according to XPS Transfer Watch.