100,000 oppose Govt interference in LGPS

Dave Prentis, UnisonThe prospect of Government interference in local government pension scheme investment strategy will come under attack today in a debate in Parliament forced by a petition signed by 105,000 members of the public.

The petition, backed by Unison, calls for an end to the Government’s policy of reserving a right to interfere in investment decisions by newly merged LGPS funds.

The text of the petition says: “5 million people rely on the LGPS to pay their pensions. 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”.

MPs will debate the future of the LGPS in Westminster Hall today.

Unison is concerned at the Government’s statement that it may require the new funds to invest in accordance with UK foreign policy, a move the union believes would breach European Union law.

Unison says is not opposed to the merger of LGPS funds but is concerned that ministers intend to take powers to dictate how funds invest scheme members’ money. It also wants to see four seats for union representatives on each fund.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Ministers have created uncertainty by saying it is for LGPS funds to decide how they invest while reserving the right to intervene.

“It is unprecedented for the government to interfere in funds and is a breach of EU law, which clearly says member states shall not require institutions to invest in particular categories of assets.

“The government must listen to the House of Commons debate and move to clarify once and for all that it is for LGPS funds to decide their own investment strategy.”