Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Newham Pension Committee: We have a 111 year old pensioner! No tobacco pledge (and why parents should join the LGPS - and anyone else lucky enough to be eligible)

This evening I took part in the Newham Council Pension Committee, which runs the staff pension fund (under government regulations and guidance). It was our first "public" committee meeting (via zoom) since lock down. It was broadcast live on Facebook (you can still see it if you are so inclined)

The committee is composed of Newham Councillors, trade union representatives, council officers and professional advisors. The Committee (supported by officers and advisors) manages the £1.5 billion pension fund which is invested in a wide range of different equity, bond, cash, property and "alternative" investments in the UK and across the world.

The most important thing that came out of this evening's meeting is that the fund has survived (so far, touch wood etc etc) pretty well during the financial turmoil and is now nearly back to pre covid fully funded basis. Obviously there are still massive investment risks, especially if there are future covid-19 related lockdowns.

The most interesting thing that I learnt tonight is that the oldest Newham Council pensioner is 111 years of age! So I suspect that they may have received a pension for at least 59 years (if not longer) and only paid in for a possible maximum of 40 years.

The next most important thing I learnt is that the fund has 46 children (under age 20) who are dependents of pension fund members who have died. I am sure that many employees who are eligible to join the pension scheme but don't - do not realise that not only do they get a decent pension but free life assurance and financial support for their kids if they die while they are dependant.

The other important public issue is that Newham is the first Council pension fund in the country to sign up to a call for a tobacco free Portfolio pledge and also congratulations to our Chair, Cllr Nareser Osei shortlisted for the Women in Pensions Awards 2020 in the category of Trustee of the Year.

The Chair is the only shortlisted finalist from the Local Government Pension sector. The awards will take place on 25th November 2020).

There were some other serious issues which were due to confidentiality are exempt and had to be discussed in a private session.

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