William Eichler 22 July 2016

Petition calling for debate on pension funds attracts 100,000 signatures

Proposals to pool local government pension funds in order to invest in infrastructure have prompted over 100,000 people to sign a petition calling for a parliamentary debate.

The former chancellor George Osborne announced last October the Government’s intention to combine local authority pension funds into six new British Wealth Funds worth an estimated £25bn to help increase investment in major infrastructure projects.

The trade union Unison supports the idea of pooling funds but argued at the time union-nominated representatives and not ministers should be appointed to the new pool governance structures.

Unison started an online petition calling for a debate on the subject and it has got more than 100,000 signatures which means Parliament must discuss it.

The petition stated: ‘Government wants powers over LGPS investment funds, but they could gamble away members’ money on infrastructure projects. This is not allowed in any other UK scheme, including the MPs'. The LGPS must be invested in members’ best interests.’

They also warn the new funds could be used to replace Government funding of national infrastructure projects.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘It’s time ministers granted a debate in Parliament on the future of the local government pension scheme. No other pension fund in the UK has this level of interference, and it’s important that MPs can scrutinise proposals affecting one of the largest schemes in the UK.

‘There must be proper consultation on the introduction of the new wealth funds, one that must involve unions in any investment decisions.’

‘Ministers must allow council pension funds to make their own decisions on where they invest the current and future pension pots of care workers, teaching assistants and social workers, and allow them to get the best return,’ he added.

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