Our workplace pensions

Employees and workers of the University are entitled to join a workplace pension scheme.

To understand which scheme applies to you see below.

Elsewhere on our site you can find information about the Benefits of a pension including how to join, and an explanation of Retirement Options including early and flexible retirement.

Three of our schemes are 'Defined Benefit' schemes, meaning that your pension is based on a set formula (based on your salary and length of service) and does not fluctuate based on the performance of investments.  Despite the continuing changes to public sector pensions, each scheme provides broadly similar benefits which are generous and competitive.

The University offers NEST to workers who do not qualify for one of the above statutory schemes:

If you'd like a Pension Estimate, see the links in the relevant pension scheme section below.

Which pension scheme applies to me?

At the University of Sunderland:

  • Academic teaching staff (including Lecturers,  Senior Lecturers, Principal Lecturers, Readers, Professors, Teachers of English for Academic Purposes, Academic Tutors) are automatically included in the Teachers Pensions Scheme (TPS)
  • Employees on Support (non-academic) contracts (for example admin, manual, technical and professional staff on our pay spine):
    • of three months duration or more are automatically included in the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), the local branch of which is the Tyne and Wear Pension fund.  However, Casual Workers and Fee & Expenses claimants in non-academic roles do not qualify for the LGPS and use NEST instead;
    • on contracts due to last for less than three months are not automatically included but may opt in to the LGPS.
  • Senior Managers are entered into the pension scheme most relevant to their current role and previous employment background; normally this will be the LGPS unless their employment is academic in character.
  • The University can also offer membership to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) to staff who are already members of the USS via their previous employer at the time they join us, and do not have more than one month break in membership.  We cannot offer USS membership under any other circumstances.

 At University of Sunderland in London:

At our other subsidiaries:

  • For more information about other subsidiary companies please contact Payroll.

LGPS

‌LGPS is the automatic pension scheme for University of Sunderland non-teaching contracts (except casual workers). The local Pension Office is the Tyne and Wear Pension Fund.

In April 2014 LGPS introduced a wide range of changes including moving its benefits from a Final Salary to a Career Average basis, linking retirement age to State Pension Age, and making non-contractual overtime pensionable.  Final salary pension benefits in payment, or built up, before April 2014 are protected.  New pension is built up on a career average basis.

You can find out more about the scheme below:

Pension Estimates

To find out the value of your pension:

  • Check your Annual Benefit Statement which the pension scheme sends to you in the post each year, or
  • If you cannot find your annual benefit statement, ring the Employee helpline on 0191 4244141 and Tyne and Wear Pension Fund can run a manual statement (this looks different to the standard statement but contains the same information.)

What do I pay?

The pension schemes are completely independent from the University, however the University arranges for contributions to be deducted from your salary by Payroll. These will be shown on your payslip. Contribution rates for new members in the pension schemes are shown in the table below.

The University also pays into your pension over and above your salary and the Government provides tax relief on pension contributions (Annual and Lifetime Tax Allowance).  Employer and employee contributions can only be made whilst you are in relevant employment. Current contribution rates are shown below. Each month:

Scheme You Pay (tax relief also applies) Employer Pays
LGPS - (SCHEME CHANGES) Employee Contribution Rates (deduction)

Employer contribution of 17% of salary in Sunderland scheme (added on top)

The scheme does not pay out the same amount of contributions that you pay in. The benefits you get when you retire are based on your pensionable service and salary.  For more see the benefits of joining a pension scheme.

Important Updates for LGPS members:

  • Early Retirement: If you intend to retire early from the LGPS (from age 55) you must give at least THREE MONTHS notice to the Pension Fund of the date when you want to begin receiving your pension, using the CARE65 form.  For more information see here.  This is your responsibility, and may mean that you need to notify the pension scheme of your early retirement before you have to hand in your notice to the University.  For more information about Early Retirement see here: Retirement Options.
  • Reduction in Pay: The old Certificate of Material Change was removed in 2008 but may still apply to members who had a reduction in pay and obtained the certificate prior to 1 April 2008.  The Certificate is only valid if you then leave within 10 years of the date the Certificate is issued.  From 1 April 2008 a reduction in pay (other than for flexible retirement or the end of a temporary change) is covered by Regulation 10 of the LGPS (Benefits, Membership and Contributions) Regulations 2007.  This Regulation allows an individual to opt, at least one month prior to retirement,  to have their final pay (for pre-April 2014 benefits which are paid on a Final Salary basis) calculated as the average of any three consecutive years in the last 13 years prior to retirement. This option still applies for pre-April 2014 benefits in the 2014 scheme.

TPS

‌Teachers Pensions is the default University pension scheme for academic/lecturing staff on teaching contracts, including Academic Tutors.  Pension Annual Benefit Statements are distributed in October each year.

In April 2015 Teachers' Pensions introduced a wide range of changes including moving its benefits from a final salary to a career average basis, and linking retirement age to State Pension Age.  Final salary pension benefits in payment, or built up, before April 2015 are protected.  New pension is built up on a career average basis.  Some members are protected from the changes - for different lengths of time.  Briefing sessions were held for University staff in March 2015.  This Teachers Pensions Change 2015 website is a friendly, plain english guide containing helpful videos, FAQs and Guidance.  You can also watch a short video.

Pension Estimates

To find out the value of your pension:

  • Check your Annual Benefit Statement which the pension scheme sends to you in the post each year, or
  • Log in (or register) to your 'My Pension Online' member account and access your pension benefits online, or
  • Calculator: Estimate your pension value
  • To estimate the benefit of flexibility within the scheme (such as buying additional pension, faster accrual rates, or AAB buy-out) there is an online calculator.

What do I pay?

The pension schemes are completely independent from the University, however the University arranges for contributions to be deducted from your salary by Payroll. These will be shown on your payslip. Contribution rates for new members in the pension schemes are shown in the table below.

The University also pays into your pension over and above your salary and the Government provides tax relief on pension contributions (Annual and Lifetime Tax Allowance).  Employer and employee contributions can only be made whilst you are in relevant employment. Current contribution rates are shown below. Each month:

Scheme You Pay (tax relief also applies) University Pays
Teachers' Pensions Employee Contribution Rates (deduction) Employer contribution of 16.48% of salary (added on top)

The scheme does not pay out the same amount of contributions that you pay in. The benefits you get when you retire are based on your pensionable service and salary..  For more see the benefits of joining a pension scheme.

TPS further information

USS

In addition to the LGPS and TPS, which by law are the default pension schemes for our employees, we also offer membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) to staff who are already active USS members via their previous employer at the time they join us, and do not have more than 1 month break in membership.  New staff who wish to remain in the USS for their employment at the University must inform Payroll promptly to take advantage of this. Please contact Payroll to discuss this further.

Changes to the USS from 1 April 2016

Before April 2016 USS provides two different types of defined benefit pension; final salary and career revalued benefits (CRB).  Members are in either one or the other.  Both provide a pension which is linked to salary, albeit in different ways.

From April 2016 USS provides defined benefit pensions for all members on a Career Revalued Benefits (CRB) basis. Initially CRB pension benefits will be provided on your full pensionable salary up to 30 September 2016.

From 1 October 2016 the new defined contribution (DC) section of the scheme, the USS Investment Builder, will be introduced and the CRB benefits will only be available on salary up to a threshold, with contributions towards DC saving available on salary above the threshold.  The salary threshold will start at £55,000 per year and will be revalued each April. USS For the future is a website designed to guide you through the phases of scheme changes.  The site includes videos, modellers and important downloadable factsheets for members.

USS are introducing options to help members mitigate the impact of tax changes to the Lifetime and Annual Allowance in April 2016 which are explained further here.

  • Enhanced Opt Out (EOO) for all members from 1 April 2016

Enhanced opt out (EOO) allows you to cease further pension accrual but retain death in service and incapacity benefits calculated as if you were an active member - benefits which would be lost if you were to withdraw fully from the scheme. You are still required to pay a mandatory contribution of 2.5% of salary.   See USS tax guidance for details.

EOO is currently only available to members of the final salary section, but with effect from 1 April 2016, it will be available to all members. It must remain in place for a minimum of 12 months after which you can cancel. An EOO election will be most useful if you have built up benefits approaching or above the Lifetime Allowance (LTA) and you wish to manage your tax liability in relation to the benefits to be earned above the LTA threshold.

Using EOO does not breach the conditions required to maintain fixed protection. To use enhanced opt out in conjunction with Fixed Protection 2016, the election must be completed by 29 February 2016.

  • Voluntary Salary Cap (VSC) from 1 October 2016.

The voluntary Salary Cap  (VSC) will be implemented from 1 October 2016. The VSC allows members to cap the future accrual of benefi ts by seting a salary for pension purposes at a level lower than their actual salary, subject to it being no less than the salary threshold for the year. You should read the USS tax guidance if you are at or close to annual or lifetime allowance thresholds and may have to consider managing your accrual of benefits.

USS Further Information

Pension Estimates

To find out the value of your pension:

What do I pay?

The pension schemes are completely independent from the University, however the University arranges for contributions to be deducted from your salary by Payroll. These will be shown on your payslip. Contribution rates for new members in the pension schemes are shown in the table below.

The University also pays into your pension over and above your salary and the Government provides tax relief on pension contributions (Annual and Lifetime Tax Allowance).  Employer and employee contributions can only be made whilst you are in relevant employment. Current contribution rates are shown below. Each month:

USS

You Pay (tax relief also applies)

Employer Pays

Up to 31/3/2016

Career Average 'Defined Benefit' scheme: 6.5% (modeller showing effective cost after tax relief)

Final Salary 'Defined Benefit' scheme: 7.5% (modeller showing effective cost after tax relief)

Employer contribution of 16% of salary

From 1/4/2016

Employee contributon rate of 8% of salary (deduction)

Employer contribution of 18% of salary (added on top)

The scheme does not pay out the same amount of contributions that you pay in. The benefits you get when you retire are based on your pensionable service and salary.  For more see the benefits of joining a pension scheme.

NEST

‌NEST is a retirement pot you can contribute to through your employer when you get paid. When they retire, members convert their pot into a retirement income paid by a provider, which is often an insurance company. This is known as buying an annuity.

Employees of our University of Sunderland in London subsidiary use NEST as their pension provision on a voluntary basis. See University of Sunderland in London for more details.

At the University we are required by law to enrol our employees in either the LGPS or the TPS in most cases.  However Casual workers (such as Student Ambassadors and Life Models) and Fee & Expenses claimants are not automatically enrolled in the LGPS.  If these staff meet the qualifying criteria for auto-enrolment, or wish to opt-in voluntarily to a pension, they use NEST.

Pension Estimates

To find out the value of your pension:

What do I pay?

Now  October 2018 (statutory minimum rates)
  • You pay 2.4% of pensionable earnings
  • Government pays 0.6% (tax relief*)
  • Employer pays 3%
  • You pay 4% of pensionable earnings
  • Government pays 1% (tax relief*)
  • Employer pays 3%

 * You're generally eligible for tax relief if you're under 75 and resident in the UK or pay UK income tax orhave paid UK income tax in one of the last five tax years.  Otherwise, you pay the ‘tax relief’ % instead.

 Contact Details

This page was published on 12 July 2018