Posted: Wed 6th Mar 2024

Councillors to Debate Motion on Powys County Council Pension Fund Investments in Arms Industry /

COUNCILLORS will be asked to support a motion that could see Powys County Council stop its pension fund investing in the arms industry.
The motion will be debated at a Powys County Council meeting on Thursday, March 7 and follows concerns raised in January that the council’s pensions pot has investments with firms supplying weapons to Israel.
Back in January the Open Democracy website published an article based on information from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign which claimed that 52 of 86 Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) in Wales and England have investments worth £1.1 billion with firms supplying armaments to Israel.
According to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign the Powys Pension Fund has over £9 million invested in companies that supply weapons, technology, and equipment to Israel.
Cabinet member for education, Liberal Democrat Cllr Pete Roberts will put the motion in front of councillors for debate.
Cllr Roberts said: “The increased instability in the Middle East is detrimental to stable global governance.
“It damages global trade through the Red Sea and increases shipping costs, which are likely to fuel inflation.
“This, in turn, will prolong the cost-of-living crisis facing Powys residents and increase borrowing costs for council expenditure.
“That it is contrary to Powys’ stronger, fairer, greener policy and sustainable development goals, for the council investments and pension funds to provide support for the armaments industry and is therefore an unsustainable investment decision.”
Cllr Roberts motion calls: “For the Pensions and Investment committee to withdraw any direct investments in the armaments industry and to work to minimise level of investment in the industry within pooled investments.”
He also wants the council to back calls for: “An immediate and enduring ceasefire to enable the safe return of remaining (Israeli) hostages, the release of Palestinians held under administrative detention, and the expansion of access to humanitarian aid from within the Gaza strip.”
The motion will be seconded by fellow cabinet member and Liberal Democrat, Cllr Richard Church.
A finance assessment accompanying the motion said: “The pension fund invests using pooled funds such as the Wales Pension Partnership (WPP) and indirectly, through pooled investments, may have exposure to such companies.
“The WPP does not currently exercise any exclusionary policies in respect of any stocks it can potentially invest in.”
There could also be a further hurdle to implementing the proposal if agreed by council.
Any move by the council to disinvest in Israeli companies or those providing support to them could be stopped by new legislation.
In January, the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill was backed by MPs in the House of Commons and is currently at the committee stage in the House of Lords being scrutinised by peers.
If this bill makes it onto the statute books, public bodies will not be allowed to boycott Israeli companies or those providing support to them. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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