Austin Macauley 28 January 2016

Pension funds must not be gambled on Government projects, Unison warns

The Government should not be able to ‘dictate’ how money from local government pension funds is invested, union leaders have warned.

Unison said combined funds should decide how its members’ money is invested, not Government ministers.

The Government is drawing up plans to enable the 89 funds that make up the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) to be pooled and invested in infrastructure projects.

Although it is not opposed to the pooling of funds, Unison questioned the role of ministers in investment decisions – and the prospect of subsidising Government projects.

It wants to see union-nominated representatives appointed to the new pool governance structures ‘so that any investment works for the millions of teaching assistants, refuse collectors, homecare workers and other town hall workers whose pensions are held by the scheme’.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘Pension funds are supposed to invest for the benefit of fund members, and should not be used as a substitute for investment that should be coming from the public purse.

‘Making pension funds plough their assets into the latest Government initiative could very well mean poor returns for workers in the LGPS pension scheme. Funds should not have to risk gambling away their members’ retirement incomes by subsidising an infrastructure project that should be funded from Government coffers or by the private sector.

‘The local government pension scheme should not be a sovereign wealth fund for the government to spend as it sees fit.’

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