Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Local initiatives can show a way forward

  • Comment

The word pension is never far from the thoughts of the average local government employee, says David Blackman, LGC’s acting editor.

And this week we reveal that the local government pension scheme could be taking a new and radical turn with the news that East Sussex County Council is exploring how it could use the county’s retirement fund as the building block for setting up a bank.

Of course, those affected are entitled to feel a few jitters about the fate of their nest eggs.

East Sussex has deliberately started small, proposing to earmark a sliver of its overall fund for the ‘Bank of Lewes’.

As an ex-City man, leader Peter Jones won’t need lectures on the importance of ensuring the funds are not invested in crowd-pleasing job creation schemes.

But longer term, East Sussex’s initiative offers a tantalising prospect — potentially mobilising the hundreds of billions of pounds held in the local government pension scheme for grassroots economic development.

It could help to keep money circulating in local economies, safeguarding communities’ future prospects.

East Sussex’s move could be neat politics too.

Public sector pensions are firmly in the sights of the next likely occupant of Number 11 Downing Street, as we explore in this week’s Finance Special feature on pensions.

In this context, direct investment by local government pension funds in hard-pressed local small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) looks like a smart political move.

Being able to point to the SMEs saved thanks to the actions of the local council bank would be a useful rejoinder the next time the TaxPayers Alliance pipes up about local government pensions.

And why stop there? Investing pension funds in local infrastructure could be an equally sound investment.

East Sussex’s initiative shows how, even in these tough times, local government innovation can help communities overcome the downturn.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.