As 2019 ends, our campaign continues into 2020.

We have had three main objectives, which have not been accepted so far by CPF.

Our Members forum has asked:

  • for CPF to hold an AGM. We have highlighted how many other LGPS (Local Government Pension Scheme) funds do. Below are listed some examples of other funds, and some of the Q&As that have been tabled at this meetings. [1] and [2]
  • for a mention of the Forum on the “Useful Links“ page of the CPF website http://www.cheshirepensionfund.org/about-the-fund/useful-links/
  • for secure CPF webpages, to allow all members to hold discussions among themselves, which would also provide feedback to the CPF managers, the Committee, the Board, and the Investment Advisers.

In early September, we met with the Chair of the Committee, the Chair of the Pension Board and the new manager of CPF to discuss these topics. We stressed that we hoped to work with CPF, and that we did not want to micro manage any CPF decisions.

But we pressed the concern of the Members Forum that we had no way of knowing how strongly other pensioners and members felt about our pensions and our how our fund invested, and decisions made on such items as:

  • divestment and engagement
  • climate change
  • investing in tax avoiders, tobacco, gaming, gambling, etc
  • property owned by the fund – including the London building with a Strip Club

Without an AGM, or discussion webpages, we asked how do members understand how in practice the CPF investments follow the important “ESG” principles:

  • Environmental: resource depletion, including water waste and pollution, deforestation.
  • Social: working conditions, including slavery and child labour; health and safety; employee relations and diversity; ageing populations; social unrest; local communities, including indigenous communities; and income inequality.
  • Governance: executive pay; bribery and corruption; board diversity and structure.

We have instead suggested investing in areas such as renewable energy, low cost housing, training, and industry and buildings in the areas covered by Cheshire, Warrington, and Halton. These would benefit local residents and taxpayers, and help to build a future for young people and families.

From that meeting, CPF did agree to use the payslips we all receive in Spring 2020 to highlight a link to the yearly “Cheshire Chat” which was previously sent to us all, but is now only available online – http://www.cheshirepensionfund.org/pensioners/newsletters/

In October 2019, our Press Release 10 welcomed the announcement by CPF [3] of an investment of £500 million into a new Low Carbon fund (the LGPS Central, All World Equity Climate Multi Factor Fund). During 2019, the four major councils that form CPF, have now all declared a Climate Emergency – . Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East, Warrington BC, and Halton BC. We recognise this investment as one local step to improving the climate crisis.

The big development for 2019 has been Responsible Investment. How investment managers operate on behalf of members, and the sustainable and ethical decisions made, are gaining global importance. There is no doubt this will be the news story of 2020

  • Customers of the Co-op Bank have formed their own Customer Union for Ethical Banking. See https://saveourbank.coop/
  • BankTrack highlights how globally and nationally the banking and pension sectors are often still investing un-sustainably. They show a growing disquiet, and that people are increasingly expecting more of how their banks and funds invest and follow ESG principles. See https://www.banktrack.org/
  • ShareAction say that their “vision is a world where ordinary savers and institutional investors work together to ensure our communities and environment are safe and sustainable for all” https://shareaction.org/responsible-investment/ has more details

NOTES

1 https://www.nottspf.org.uk/about-the-fund Nottinghamshire AGM including Q&As on 3 October 2019

2 https://www.lpfa.org.uk/Home.aspx The London Pension Fund Authority’s (LPFA) annual Fund Member Forum on 30 September 2019.

3 http://www.cheshirepensionfund.org/cheshire-media-release-lgps-central-all-world-equity-climate-multi-factor-fund/