Suffolk: Tobacco investment ban takes big step forward

Will the county stub out its tobacco shares?

Will the county stub out its tobacco shares? - Credit: PA

A possible ban on investment in tobacco companies by Suffolk County Council’s pension fund has taken a big step forward.

The county’s pension fund committee has voted to consult with employers who pay into the fund about whether to instruct its managers to switch pension funds from tobacco companies to other investments that produce similar returns.

The county council itself overwhelmingly voted in July to ask the committee to make the changes to its investment.

The move follows mounting concern after the county took on the role of promoting public health last year – at which point many former NHS staff transferred to the authority, along with their pensions.

However the final decision on whether to transfer the tobacco company investment does not exist with the county council, but with the committee.

This is because many other bodies – including borough and district councils, some parish and town councils and some other public sector organisations including Ipswich Buses – have staff or former staff in the pension scheme.

In total there are 115 employers paying into the council pension fund.

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The county council is by far the largest single contributor, but all have to be consulted before any decision can be confirmed.

The original motion to the full council was proposed by Labour group leader Sandy Martin and seconded by Conservative Michael Bond, a member of the pension committee.

Mr Martin said: “I am satisfied that the correct process is being undertaken, and look forward to the final decision being taken to disinvest in tobacco companies.

“It is not a political issue – it is simply the right thing to do.”

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