Osborne plans meeting with local government pension fund bosses over plans to invest in UK infrastructure

George Osborne is to meet this week with council chiefs to thrash out a deal over getting local authority pension funds to invest in UK infrastructure, the Times reports.

The paper says the move could raise at least £10bn for investment and comes after his announcement last November that £30bn would be spent on infrastructure projects during the next ten years.

Osborne said in the Autumn Statement that £20bn would be raised from private sector pension funds with £10bn from extra government spending.

The Times says Treasury sources have now admitted that the £20bn would now be raised from private and local government pensions.

Under the plan, local authorities would pool their collective investment power. A separate investment trust could be set up with some independent members to advise on where funds should be spent and guard against conflict of interest, the paper reports.

However, ministers may yet face a battle with local authority bosses and unions over the move, with fears that investment in ‘risky’ infrastructure projects could produce lower yields and destabilise pensions funds, some of which are already in deficit.

The move also comes alongside the government’s plans to reform public sector pensions, with some local authority pensions bosses predicting the reforms could lead to members opting out of their pension schemes thereby undermining the long term sustainability of local government pensions.

A Treasury spokesman said: “Some local government pension funds have approached the government seeking help to enable them to invest in infrastructure projects.

“We are in ongoing discussions to facilitate that. Investment in infrastructure is critical to creating the conditions for long-term economic growth, which is why the government announced a further £30bn investment in infrastructure last November.”