Public service workers want an ethical local government pension fund, says UNISON

In a UNISON survey of over 6000 local government pension fund members almost 9 in 10 (88%) are calling for their pension funds to be invested ethically.

The Local Government Pension Scheme in Scotland holds assets worth over £46 billion. Fiduciary duty requires that the primary purpose of investing those assets is to generate a return to pay the pensions of the workers. However, within that, pension funds have got wide scope to determine their investment strategy. In a survey of over 6000 local government pension fund members:

• 88% said that they wanted ethical issues taking into account in where their pensions were invested, and 47% of these felt this strongly.
• 83% said they wanted fossil fuel issues taken into account in where their pensions were invested, and 42% of these felt this strongly • 63% wanted to be consulted by their pension fund about its investment principles, and only 10% did not

Stephen Smellie, depute convenor of UNISON Scotland said: “There is a sound financial case for ethics to play a role in our pension investments. Investments in ethically dubious companies can be at risk from either regulatory change or in the case of fossil fuel-based companies at risk of becoming stranded assets as governments move to reduce reliance on carbon-based energy.

“Pension funds should listen to those workers about their investments. But none of the 11 LGPS funds in Scotland have yet directly asked their members their views. So, UNISON, the biggest trade union in Scotland, asked our members in the LGPS what they thought. Nearly 6,000 responded and they want their pension fund more ethically invested.”

• UNISON is the largest trade union in local government and the largest traed union in Scotland.
• Workers currently have a limited voice in the LGPS through seats on the Scottish Scheme Advisory Board (SAB), and 11 local pension fund boards, on which half of the seats are reserved for trade union representatives. UNISON have 18 seats spread amongst 11 boards

The full survey results: Hear the workers voice on their pensions Survey of members in the Local Government Pension Scheme, 2021

• We can provide local figures for Shetland, Orkney, Highland, North-East Scotland, Tayside, Fife, Falkirk, Lothian, Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway, Borders.

UNISON Contacts:
Simon Watson, regional organiser with lead for pensions: 07903 055477

Danny Phillips: 07944 664110