Unison launches petition for debate on pension funds

Trade union Unison has launched a petition to debate the proposal to pool local government pension funds in order to invest in infrastructure.

The plans were announced by the former chancellor George Osborne in October’s Budget and involved combining local authority pension funds into six new British Wealth Funds work around £25 billion to help increase investment in major infrastructure projects.

The Union maintained that while it supports the idea of pooling funds, it argued union-nominated representatives should be appointed to the new pool governance structures, as opposed to ministers.

The union has gained 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.”

Dave Prentis, UNISON general secretary, 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.”

Prentis added: “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.”