10 Sep 2014

Wirral's £40 million investment in big tobacco

It's Stoptober time. which if you didn't know, is a national campaign to help people quit smoking.

Wirral Council's right behind it and has some helpful advice on its website.

All well and good and a sensible initiative to promote healthier living.

And an interesting backdrop to the latest set of accounts published by the Merseyside Pension Fund.

Why you might reasonably ask? Well, Wirral manages the Merseyside Pension Fund on behalf of all the councils on Merseyside. It's a serious fund, one of the biggest of its kind in the country with assets totalling £6.4 billion.

That's the kind of money that could do some serious good if invested in those companies working in the green economy - renewable energy, sustainable homes, cleaner transport.

Unfortunately, the Merseyside Pension Fund has some very nasty habits. It's biggest share holding - £40m - is British American Tobacco.

And it's not just big tobacco.

Coming in at number two is HSBC, recently fined $2 billion by the US senate for money laundering and branded a conduit for "drug kingpins and rogue nations".

At #3 is the BG Group which is up to its neck in the push to make the UK the fracking capital of Europe. Perhaps the fund is unaware there is huge opposition to fracking in Wirral across the political divide.

#4 is notorious tax avoider Vodafone.

And, finally, at #5 comes BP, a company synonymous with environmental carnage and just this week ruled to have been grossly negligent by a US court following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.

What a shocking list and an absolute stain on the whole of Merseyside but Wirral in particular.

And, with a growing movement to divest from fossil fuels, these holdings represent a huge risk to the current and future beneficiaries of the Merseyside Pension Fund.

1 comment: