UK - The London Borough of Newham has appointed a new actuarial and investment adviser for its pension fund, while Ufi has been awarded the National Association of Pension Fund's (NAPF) Pension Quality Mark (PQM) Plus.

Newham Council has confirmed it has awarded both the actuarial services and pension strategy investment adviser contracts to Barnett Waddingham.

The council said it received tender submissions from 10 firms across the two contracts, five submissions for both mandates and five tendering for the investment advice role only. However, following the short-listing process Newham confirmed it had chosen Barnett Waddingham to perform both roles for its £606m (€674m) pension fund, with both contracts expected to last for an initial period of five years.

In other developments for the pension fund, documents from the last meeting of the council's investment and accounts committee in November 2009 revealed the pension fund intended to transfer £25m held in passive equities and cash to the property fund run by ING.

The committee was told: "The process started on 30 October 2009, with £1.8m of surplus cash transferred to ING to fund investment opportunities in property that were available at 4.5% discount to their Net Asset Value."

Elsewhere, the online training provider Ufi - which operates the Learndirect brand - is the latest company to receive the NAPF's top tier Pension Quality Mark Plus for its group stakeholder pension plan. (See earlier IPE article: Six UK DC schemes hit pension quality mark)

The firm's pension consultants Capita Hartshead initiated the process of applying for the award, which is judged on contribution basis, governance and member communication, to highlight the fact Ufi provide a 'gold standard' arrangement.

Tony Barnard, account director at Capita Hartshead, said: "Ufi shows the same level of commitment to governance of its contract-based pension plan as is required from occupational scheme trustees. This is evidenced by the high level of member engagement, with just less than 90% of employees having joined."

Following confirmation of the award, Dianne Williamson, HR director at Ufi, added: "We recognise that the success of our pension plan goes way beyond simply getting employees to join. Therefore we encourage members to take an active interest in their pension savings throughout their membership."

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