Council pension fund invested in tobacco group
THE leader of North Lincolnshire Council has questioned the ethics of council employees' pension money being invested into a tobacco group.
Councillor Liz Redfern spoke as the council prepares to take on responsibility for public health in April.
The East Riding Pension Fund, which is the region's biggest public sector pension pot, had £27.1 million invested in British American Tobacco plc at March 31 last year.
The fund administers the pensions of current and previous North Lincolnshire Council employees, as well as those from more than 70 other organisations.
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Mrs Redfern said she had written to pension fund bosses to ask for the investment to be reconsidered. She said: "There are clearly a number of concerns around investments of this kind.
"I have written to the pension fund to urge them to review their arrangements for making these investments.
"I have also formally asked them to look into investigating the ethics of making such investments, particularly given their impact on the health of residents of North Lincolnshire.
"These are public investments and if you can't be ethical with public money, when can you be ethical?"
Helen Kirk, of patient support group Who Cares, welcomed the council's approach.
She said: "Who Cares is pleased to see that the council is factoring in ethics into decisions about investments and we applaud this laudable approach."
A spokesman for East Riding of Yorkshire Council said: "The council and pension fund are separate entities.
"There are approximately 100 different organisations who are members of the East Riding pension fund, including all four Humber unitary councils. It is not this council's money. The pensions committee has an obligation to invest the fund in the best interests of the scheme beneficiaries. The committee reviews all investments on a quarterly basis."