Thursday, 26 April 2012

Huppert Quizzes Government On Ethical Pensions

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has quizzed the government on the action it is taking to make sure pension holders have the chance to invest their retirement funds in ethical companies and not just those offering short-term returns.

He paid tribute to Cambridge Retrofit, who aim to retrofit Cambridge buildings by 2050. He spoke at their launch last week, welcoming the landmark energy efficiency initiative to make Cambridge the first UK city to reach national targets of an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions.

Julian told Parliament that he wants pension fund trustees to look closely at investing funds in companies such as this.

He asked Pensions Minister, Steve Webb in the House of Commons: “How will he make sure that trustees are aware that their fiduciary duties do not prevent them from doing this? How will he communicate this, as many of them seem to be unaware of this?”

Mr Webb assured Julian that trustees are allowed to look at wider social aspects of their investments, and that the pension regulator communicates regularly with trustees and provided a tool kit on his website setting out trustees’ duties.

He also highlighted that "auto enrolment does provide the opportunity for ethical investment, for example the National Employment Saving Trust, will specifically have an ethical fund for people who want to invest in that way,” he said, “ and I hope that his schemes will seek to find investments through that particular route.”

Julian said later: “We have a huge number of companies in this country working on programmes which aim to improve our environment, reduce inequality and generally make life better for us and future generations.

“These companies need investment to grow and flourish and pension fund trustees should be looking at them seriously. We should be looking to the companies of the future, those that have excellent ethical credentials and that are working towards what we want to achieve environmentally.”