I spent my day around Westminster yesterday. One of the meetings I spoke at was staged by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Local Authority Pensions. I will not comment on the suggestion that I know how to have a good time.
Also speaking at the meeting was Rishi Sunak, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Local Government. He lamented the fact that at present just 0.5% of local authority pensions are invested in infrastructure projects.
The representatives of the pension funds present said they needed a product to help them invest if that ratio was to improve. I have been arguing this point for 15 years now: my co-authored report on what I called People's Pensions came out in February 2003. As we argued then, pensi0ns funds should be able to invest in bonds issued by local infrastructure projects. We said:
The possibility of People’s Pension Funds being promoted for separate localities or regions would be strongly encouraged, especially for health, housing and education services. Local People’s Pension Funds would increase the identification between the person saving and the asset they had helped fund, and so promote the ideas of:
1. common ownership
3. ethical investment
4. sustainable local communities
5. provision of a resource base that people might need now and in their retirement (such as hospital facilities) from the savings they have made during their working life
I stand by the idea. I hope to re-present it this autumn. Local authority pensions funds would be amongst those able to take advantage of this idea.