"Pensions Schemes in UK" is a series of cartographies and system maps to understand the lecturers' pensions system in U.K and how the crisis of this system started.

In 2018 British lecturers started a strike because their pensions system was about to change due to an important deficit forecasted by the private company running their pension scheme. This change consisted of switching from a defined-benefit scheme (you know how much you pay, you know how much you’ll get back once retired) to a defined-contribution scheme (you know how much you pay, the money you’ll get as a retiree will depend of the performance of scheme assets on financial markets).

The forecasting of an assumption

I decided to look deeper at the issue and to understand how this crisis begun. I started to research every information I could get in order to understand the general system of lecturers pension and how the forecasted deficit was calculated. I produced a series of system maps to sort up all the different actors and networks involved. I understood that the forecasted deficit calculation is based on assumptions of a forecasted inflation rate, forecasted life expentancy of the lecturers and the forecasted performance of the scheme's financial assets over 5, 10 and 20 years. The performance of these assets and the evolution of the inflation rate are in fact deeply linked to the Bank of England's strategy of quantitative easing that started after the 2008 financial crisis.

A quote from the private company running the pension scheme is quite striking: "The future is ultimately unknowable, so we must make a range of informed, sensible assumptions based on detailed analysis and modelling to arrive at our conclusions on future economic and social trends largely outside our control."

The HD version of the four maps can be downloaded here. Because the maps are heavy I chose not to display them here as it will take too long to display them and create data traffic for no reason.

Map 1: USS Deficit calculation (High definition / Average definition)
Map 2: UK Lecturers' pension scheme system (High definition / Average definition)
Map 3: Global ecosystem of USS Scheme (High definition / Average definition)
Map 4: Gilt crisis in USS Scheme (High definition / Average definition)

Credits

Design and research - Gauthier Roussilhe
Color - Qiyun Liu
Reviewers - Erin Liu, Nick Banning, Dash McDonald, Nicholas Mortimer