Councils should consider pooling infrastructure assets, report claims

Local authorities in the UK should consider pooling assets to create an infrastructure investment platform, according to a new report.

The report was produced by consultants Hymans Robertson with a working group of 24 local authorities and examines the best way to pool investment across local government pension schemes (LGPS), covering around £140 billion of assets.

The report, entitled ‘Project Pool’, follows recommendations from Chancellor George Osborne that authorities in England and Wales should develop plans to bring assets together into six British Wealth Funds.

The report found that these six pools could be viable and that bringing assets together across the LGPS could lead to annual savings of up to £300 million within ten years. In terms of how these pools would work, the report recommends that individual funds should remain responsible for their own liabilities, setting employer contribution rates and their own investment strategy.

John Wright, Hymans Robertson’s head of public sector, commented: “Pool responsibilities should include running any legal structures required, creating access to the asset classes needed by the funds, accessing those assets efficiently, monitoring investment costs and performance and making manager hire and fire decisions.

“We’re likely to see different combinations of internal and external management across pools, and different asset types available in each. One size won’t fit all.”

Mark Wynn, head of finance at Cheshire Pension Fund, said: “The analysis gives us a solid foundation on which to base those discussions. It’s our hope that it will be useful to the whole LGPS community, not just those involved in the project.”