The UK Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) is sponsoring a new all-party parliamentary group (APPG) that will provide a forum for discussion about the development of “British wealth funds”, among other areas of change affecting local government pension schemes (LGPS).
The group is described as providing a forum for local authority pension fund members “to talk to Parliament and the government about making greater use of pension fund money for infrastructure, local growth and housing”.
Also on the group’s agenda is the role of pension funds in corporate governance and shareholder activism and the reform of the LGPS.
The 89 LGPS in England and Wales have been asked to combine their assets in at least half a dozen pools of at least £25bn (€29.2bn).
Eight distinct pools are emerging, with the schemes having until next week, 15 July, to submit detailed proposals for the pools to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
Government ministers and spokespeople have been referring to the new pools as British “wealth funds”, a controversial label, as it implies the pension assets becoming public money.
The reform talks have also highlighted the role the LGPS can play in financing national infrastructure, and a new national infrastructure platform for the asset pools is one option being considered by the DCLG.
The new cross-party group will be chaired by Clive Betts, a Labour Party MP.
He said: “Local authority pension funds are off the radar for most parliamentarians, yet their role as pension providers and investors in the UK in new British wealth funds is critical.
“Parliament needs to better understand what local authority pension funds can offer the country. They also need to be aware of what planned changes to the investment regulations mean, not least for local constituents.”
Kieran Quinn, chair of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF), the largest LGPS, said the cross-party group was vital to address the “significant changes” local authority pension funds were undergoing.
Quinn is also chair of the LAPFF, of which 70 local authority pension funds are members, with combined assets of more than £175bn.
“Government plans around pooling, [and] attempts to strengthen local government funds and drive greater investment in UK infrastructure, place a whole new set of requirements and responsibilities on the sector,” he said, adding that these “must be effectively negotiated and managed to be successful”.
He added: “This is why a new All Party Parliamentary Group is essential.”
The APPG already plans to have discussions with the minister for local government, Marcus Jones MP, and Andrew Adonis, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission.
The APPG will count as one of its vice-chairs Bob Kerslake, president of the Local Government Association (LGA) and former permanent secretary of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
He is a member of the House of Lords.
The other vice-chairs are Ian Blackford MP, Mark Prisk MP and Lord Goddard.
The other members are:
- Julian Knight MP
- Bob Blackman MP
- Kevin Hollinrake MP
- Ruth Cadbury MP
- John Healey MP
- Steve Reed MP
- Alan Brown MP
- Mary Robinson MP
- Jeff Smith MP
- John McNally MP
- Lord Larry Whitty
- David Anderson MP
- Lord Jonathan Mendelsohn
- Lord Richard Best
- Lord Jeremy Beecham
- Roger Godsiff MP
- Richard Burden MP