The Government has updated the Brexit pension guidance to reflect that the State Pension will continue to be increased while the person is resident in the EU and that the transition period has ended. The guidance explains the rights of UK nationals in the EU, the European Economic Area or Switzerland to benefits and pensions now that the UK has left the EU. The Government Brexit pension guidance can be found at the follwoing location: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/benefits-and-pensions-for-uk-nationals-in-the-eea-or-switzerland
Latest news & announcements
Fifteen institutional investors with a combined US$ 2.4 trillion in assets under management have filed a climate change resolution at HSBC, alongside 117 individual shareholders. The resolution, co-ordinated by responsible investment NGO ShareAction, calls on HSBC to publish a strategy and targets to reduce its exposure to fossil fuel assets, starting with coal, on a timeline consistent with the Paris climate goals.
If the resolution receives more than 75% of the votes at HSBC’s AGM in April 2021, it would require the bank to publish a strategy and short-, medium- and long-term targets to reduce its exposure to fossil fuel assets on a timeline aligned with the goals of the Paris agreement
This resolution is consistent with Brunel’s previous engagement work on fossil fuel financing and follows the shareholder resolution that was co-filed by Brunel at Barclays last year.
The Government has introduced a cap on the amount of money a public sector employer can pay when an employee leaves their employment. It is called the public sector exit cap, or £95k cap. It applies to employees leaving public sector employments from 4th November 2020.
The exit cap is most likely to affect you if you are a public sector employee aged 55 or over and you are made redundant or you leave your employment due to business efficiency. This is because the amount your employer pays to the pension fund so that you can receive your pension early is included in the exit cap calculation.
The Local Government Association have published LGPS member FAQs on the exit cap, which are available at the following location: https://lgpsmember.org/news/story/exitcap_qanda.php
The Avon Pension Fund has published its eighth Responsible Investment Annual Report. The report underlines the Funds recognition that transparency and disclosure of its Responsible Investing Policy and the related activities is an important element of being a responsible investor.
The report details the activities undertaken during 2019/20 by the Fund, our managers and our partners to deliver and support our Responsible Investing Policy.
This year’s key achievements include the doubling of our commitment to renewable infrastructure and increasing our assets allocated to sustainable equities from 3.5% to 10% of all assets.
As we recognise the importance of investor collaboration, another key development we were pleased to make was joining the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC). This presents us with the opportunity to participate in policy advocacy and portfolio implementation work alongside many like-minded investors and will help us ensure we continue as a leader in the field of responsible investment.
Our Responsible Investment priorities remain unchanged for the coming year as does our commitment to create value for our beneficiaries and at the same time make a positive environmental and social impact.
Our Investment Strategy Statement (ISS) has now been published after the stakeholder consultation process has been completed.
The ISS is a technical document that is produced to comply with LGPS regulations and guidance. It sets out how the Fund will achieve its primary strategic objective of paying the pensions due over time. This entails balancing the risk within the portfolio between generating returns and protecting capital and recognising our role as a responsible investor and the contribution we can make in addressing environmental, social and governance related issues while ensuring affordability for our employers.
We acknowledge it is difficult to achieve all the differing aspirations and objectives of our stakeholders; our strategy includes those that are aligned with the primary objective and where they do not increase the financial risk to the Fund and our ability to pay pensions.
This Statement incorporates changes resulting from the Fund’s most recent investment strategy review including changes to the asset allocation and the setting of climate change objectives. The setting of explicit climate objectives reflects the Fund’s belief that climate change presents a material financial risk to our assets and managing this risk is consistent with our over-arching fiduciary duty to the scheme members.
The Money and Pension Service has launched a new online tool to help people navigate their finances in the wake of the coronavirus. The Money Navigator tool, available on the Money Advice Service website, asks people a short series of questions about their financial situation, before providing guidance which is personalised according to their needs. It will highlight areas where they should consider taking action most urgently to avoid money problems later on.
As well as helping people who are looking for support in a specific area, the tool will also help those who might be in a better financial position due to COVID-19 and want to know what to do with any savings they may have built up. The Money Navigator tool is available at the following location: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/money-navigator-tool
When the Government reformed public service pension schemes in 2014 and 2015 they introduced protections for older members. In December 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled that younger members of the Judges' and Firefighters' Pension schemes had been discriminated against because the protections did not also apply to them.
The Government has confirmed that there will be changes to all main public sector schemes, including the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), to remove this age discrimination. This ruling is often referred to as the 'McCloud judgment' after a member of the Judges' Pension Scheme involved in the case.
The changes will apply to members who were in the scheme on 31 March 2012 and also have membership after 31 March 2014 (without a break of more than five years in any public service pension scheme).
The economic and societal impact of Covid-19 is now becoming more apparent and poses many additional challenges for companies, consumers, governments and investors alike. In our last newsletter we communicated our plans to directly address the risks posed by climate change. As we start to adjust to the ‘new normal’ it is important we redouble our efforts to transform our portfolio for a lower carbon world.
Amidst the unprecedented market volatility in March, companies responding positively to the challenges of climate change, environmental sustainability and social well-being were able to demonstrate their value. Over the first three months of the year, the Fund’s low carbon global equities outperformed the mainstream equity market and our sustainable equity portfolio experienced roughly half of the severe declines suffered by its benchmark.
We continue to make progress in the following areas, which remain critical if we are to achieve our ambitious climate change goals:
Brunel Pension Partnership has been named the Pension fund of the year by Environmental Finance. It also picked up another award for ESG Initiative of the Year.
Environmental Finance (EF) is an online news and analysis service set up over 20 years ago to report on sustainable investment, green finance and the people and companies active in environmental markets. Its Sustainable Investment Awards seek to recognise those asset managers, analysts and data providers that incorporate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors in their investments.
In awarding Brunel Pension Partnership with the prestigious Pension fund of the year EF praised Brunel for its clear and broad climate policy, active engagement, and ongoing push for disclosure improvements.
The second award ESG Initiative of the Year recognises the work Brunel carried out in conjunction with consultancy Chronos Sustainability. Where they developed a climate change framework designed to achieve investment returns whilst being in alignment with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Avon Pension Fund joins 100+ investors, representing over €11 trillion in assets, to call on EU leaders to ensure a sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19 which supports the EU Green Deal & upholds the Paris Agreement.