Managers of a pension fund for thousands of Norfolk County Council employees are recommending they continue investing in tobacco companies, although the power to take responsibility for the health of the population from next year.
The Norfolk Pension Fund, which has more than 66,000 members and covers the Norfolk County Council workers and 134 other employers, including Norwich City Council, has a total exposure to tobacco sector £ 44m.
While that is only a small amount of assets £2.1 billion rubles from the fund, the fact that the County Council will, from April next year, to take responsibility for the health of the population, including encouraging people to quit smoking, has caused controversy, it should be whether to invest in tobacco firms.
It emerged in the summer that the county council has invested £ 25.9m directly to cigarette companies, which led Norfolk County Council leader Derrick Murphy, chairman of the pension fund, to request a review of whether it was the right thing to do.
That review was conducted, showing millions due to other investments that have links to the tobacco companies and at the meeting with members of the Pension Committee will be advised not to leave their investments in such assets.
Fund managers warn them that the law is not clear on this issue, and to exclude them can lead to costly legal problems.
And the report adds: “The financial implications of the exclusion of any stock or sector will fall on employers participating in the scheme, and in the case of local authorities, which are involved in the end could fall on local taxpayers.”
Pensions are not members of the committee recommended to exclude tobacco holdings, but consider the situation where the legal situation becomes clearer.
The Committee also recommended informing the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the regulator of the local government pension that he considered the issue in relation to the potential conflict between the public duties of the Board of Health.
Mr Murphy said: “I would not prejudge in any way, and then we’re going to decide. This committee is one of the most independent-minded of all the committees, so I do not think you can second guess what they’re going to decide.