Pension cash should be used to ease housing shortage

John Finnie - call for pension investment in homes.
John Finnie – call for pension investment in homes.

A HIGHLAND MSP is calling on Moray Council to follow a lead set in Falkirk by investing a portion of their pension fund in building social and affordable housing.

Independent MSP John Finnie has written to the chief executives of all six local authorities in the Highlands and Islands, pointing to Falkirk’s initiative in investing £30million in the Housing Fund for Scotland.

Mr Finnie has said that most public service employees have no wish that their pension funds bankroll oil companies and the arms industry.

It is expected that the Falkirk move will help fund the construction of over 300 affordable homes – with the fund, managed by Heatherstone Investments, expected to raise a total of £150million for the building of 1000 new homes.

“Public authorities invest billions of pounds in pension funds, and that money could and should be helping to fund the investment we need in everything from affordable homes to clean energy,” Mr Finnie said.

He added: “Our pension funds can do good for society as well as growing strongly to provide for our retirement. The dedicated public servants who pay into council pensions aren’t just numbers on a screen.

“They are real people who need homes, schools, hospitals, a healthy environment and jobs for their families. It makes no sense to invest their money in things which undermine those needs when it could be helping to fulfil them.

“I believe most people – especially people who have chosen a career in public service – don’t want to be bankrolling oil companies, the arms industry and Big Tobacco.

“Falkirk’s investment proves there are alternatives; I hope other councils and the Scottish Parliament are paying attention.”

In his letter to Moray Council the MSP points to the “trailblazing” investment by Falkirk. He has also table a Parliamentary Question to the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body, who appoint Trustees for the Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme, calling on them to follow the Falkirk example.

Moray Council is part of the North East of Scotland Pension Fund, which is administered by Aberdeen City Council on behalf of several local authorities.

A committee, which includes representation from Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray Councils, advises on management and performance of the funds within the requirements of the Local Government Pension Scheme regulations.