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Government “attack on local democracy” could undermine ethical and pro-health investing

BMJ 2016; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i25 (Published 04 January 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;351:i25
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

Proposals to change the rules on where local authorities can invest their pension funds could restrict decisions about disinvestment in what some councils see as unethical projects, particularly in the tobacco and oil industries.

MPs, campaigners, and charities have all raised concerns over planned amendments to the Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations 2009, which are currently out for consultation until next month.1

The Department for Communities and Local Government is consulting on changes to pension regulations, alongside new procurement guidelines to stop local authorities operating “municipal foreign and defence policies” through “politically motivated boycott and divestment campaigns.”

Although the changes seem to be focused on foreign policies, they could also affect any decisions by councils to stop investing in the tobacco industry or oil industry.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government told The BMJ, “Councils should not be using pensions and procurement policies to pursue their own boycotts and sanctions against foreign nations. We are tightening up the rules …

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