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West Midlands Local Govt Pension Fund in £250m economic regeneration plan

West Midlands Local Govt Pension Fund in £250m economic regeneration plan

🕔28.May 2013

A pension fund representing thousands of Birmingham and West Midlands council employees is part of a unique £250 million initiative to invest in economic regeneration and environmental improvement projects.

The West Midlands Local Government Pension Scheme has joined forces with similar council funds in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Merseyside by unveiling an ‘Investing for Growth’ plan to lever in substantial additional investment from the private sector and kick-start regeneration projects.

An advertisement in the Financial Times seeks expressions of interest from City asset managers for what’s described as a new way of delivering both financial returns for the pension funds and of creating a “positive economic impact” locally.

Each of the pension schemes is willing to contribute £50 million in “investment opportunities with an appropriate risk and return characteristics with beneficial economic, social and environmental outcomes”.

The council pension funds are effectively seeking private sector partners to come forward with infrastructure schemes to improve the economy of local communities.

They say they will only contemplate safe investment opportunities and are not prepared to risk losing money on behalf of their members.

The ideal is similar to a proposal put forward by Quinton Labour councillor John Clancy earlier this month during his unsuccessful bid to replace Sir Albert Bore as the leader of Birmingham City Council.

Cllr Clancy suggested that the West Midlands pension fund sell bonds in order to raise money to build houses and to pay for other projects.

The idea was rubbished by supporters of Sir Albert and described as unworkable, but the city council is now pursuing a major pension investment scheme through its membership of the West Midlands Local Government Pension Fund.

Significantly, Cllr Kieran Quinn, the leader of Tameside Council and spokesman for the pension funds, is one of Cllr Clancy’s oldest friends. They were at school together in Manchester.

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