Latest news & announcements

Issue 2 of ESG is now available

ESG Issue 2 cover

We’re pleased to launch issue 2 of our new digital ‘zine’, ESG.

This issue focuses on the results from the Responsible Investment Members’ survey that we ran during COP26 in November last year. We were thrilled to receive such a big response to the survey, providing us a valuable insight into the views of the Avon Pension Fund membership on this important subject.

We also put the spotlight on another of our climate-aware sustainable infrastructure projects that the which APF invests in via its renewable infrastructure portfolio managed by Brunel Pension Partnership.

Avon Pension Fund Statement of Compliance with the UK Stewardship Code

We're pleased to bring you our Statement of Compliance with the UK Stewardship Code covering the year 2020 to 31 March 2021. 

Councillor Paul Crossley, Chair of the Pension Committee, said this in recognition of this latest release:

"The Avon Pension Fund has long been an advocate for active stewardship; recognising that positive engagement with companies, policymakers and the investment industry can protect and enhance the value of our assets over the long-term, ultimately for the benefit of our membership. As a Tier 1 signatory to the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) Stewardship Code 2012, it was important to us to continue to adhere to the high standards expected of us by our stakeholders. We welcome the broader scope of the FRC UK Stewardship Code 2020 (the Code), which now covers all assets not just listed equities, and shifts the emphasis from policies and procedures to activities and outcomes, which is ultimately what’s required if we are to effect environmental, social and governance change in the real world. cont...

Our Climate Action Plan

Climate Action Plan cover with TCFD logo

At the end of 2021 we published our very first Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) report. Today, we’re pleased to publish our Climate Action Plan – outlining the four key pillars of disclosure taken from that report that will help us reach our goal of becoming a net-zero investor by 2050 or earlier.

Following the disclosures set out by the TCFD is not yet compulsory for LGPS funds, so we are proud to be blazing the trail in this way.

A statement on the unfolding crisis in Ukraine

As the worrying situation in Ukraine continues to unfold, we wanted to bring you a joint statement from the Chair of the Avon Pension Fund Committee – Councillor Paul Crossley, and the Chair of the Avon Pension Fund Investment Panel – Councillor Shaun Stephenson-McGall.

“As a leader in the field of responsible investment and where social factors, specifically human rights, form a key pillar of our responsible investment principles, we were shocked to learn of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and we are naturally concerned about the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the region.

With immediate effect and together with our partner funds that make up the Brunel Pension Partnership (Brunel), we commit to prohibiting any new investments in Russian assets and will further disinvest from all Russian-controlled and Russian-owned assets, bonds and equities, wherever they are domiciled. This action will ensure that we capture all Russian assets, state-owned and private.

Where we have exposure to non-Russian companies and assets that derive a material proportion of their revenues from Russia, we will seek to engage both at the company and policy level to the same end. This is consistent with our wider stewardship approach and is echoed by Brunel and the other partner funds.

We believe, given the distinct risk of stranded assets in Russia, this position is consistent with our fiduciary duty and is in the best interests of our members.

Critically, the Fund took steps at the end of last year to exit its dedicated emerging market equity allocation where Russian stocks were held. As a result, the direct exposure the Fund now has to this region is negligible and in line with the position set out above we will do everything in our power to ensure the remaining exposure is removed in an orderly manner and where practicable, while allowing for the impact of recognised sanctions.

The committee hopes for a swift and diplomatic resolution to the crisis and in the meantime our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and all those affected.”

GMP Equalisation Explained

GMP Equalisation title with an image of balanced scales.

In 2018, a court ruled that pension schemes must ‘equalise’ the Guaranteed Minimum Pension (GMP) benefits for men and women. Currently, they are linked to the old state pension ages of 60 (for women) and 65 (for men).

GMPs are intended to be paid from the old state pension ages for men and women alike, (their ‘GMP age’), however they are not paid as well as a pension. This is because it is already included within the make-up of the pension. That said, the different starting ages for men and women can, in some instances, create inequality.

Pensions Increase

Pension increase

Government announces public service pensions which have been in payment for a year will be increased by 3.1% from 11 April 2022 in line with the September-to-September increase in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI). 

Any pension which has been in payment for less than a year will be increased by a proportionate amount depending upon the number of months it has been in payment.

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