Greater Manchester’s Shame – GMPF the biggest investor in fossil fuels

UK Divest’s latest analysis of fossil fuel holdings by UK Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) reveals yet again that the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) has the largest holdings in fossil fuels companies of any LGPS by both value and percent.

The Pensions Pipeline, UK Divest, October 2023

GMPF had £1.7bn invested in these companies at March 2022, of which £1.3bn was directly invested in fossil fuel extraction.  GMPF is hugely exposed to these risky investments, with the highest percent – 7.5% – of holdings in fossil fuel of any LGPS, compared with a UK average of 2.8%.

8 out of 10 GM Councils have asked the Fund to Divest – and been ignored

8 of the 10 Greater Manchester councils have asked GMPF to divest from fossil fuel companies – either by passing a council resolution and / or signing a joint letter to GMPF in 2021. Their requests have been totally ignored.

Council Resolution Signed Joint Letter

The overwhelming majority of GM councils have called on the pension fund to divest and to align with the GM councils’ net zero targets, yet the Fund still holds £1.6bn of assets in fossil fuel companies. (Latest figures March 2022.)

How can this be, when GMPF is controlled by the 10 councils in Greater Manchester and all the councils have a representative on the Fund’s Management Panel?

The explanation is that Tameside Council manages the pension fund and therefore 11 of the 20 GM Council representatives on the Management Panel are Tameside councillors. Tameside Council controls the Panel’s decisions and refuses to change.

GMPF stifles debate about its fossil fuel investments

The ten GM councils pay £m in employers’ contributions to GMPF every year. (£441m in 2021.*) Yet the Fund does all it can to stifle open debate. It:

  • Regularly ignores correspondence on this matter from GM councils.
  • Refuses to attend GM council meetings to explain its position.
  • Claims that GM councils have no powers of scrutiny over GMPF.
  • Takes most Management Panel reports in private, thereby preventing GM council representatives from discussing these with their own council officers.
  • Refuses to give panel members the opportunity to vote against proposals.

It’s time for  GM Councils to make a stand together!

Why are the Greater Manchester councils allowing Tameside Council to ignore their wishes? It’s time for the Councils to stand together and exert control over their pension fund.

Read more about the Council’s resolutions, their joint letter and GMPF’s (non existent) response.

* For the most recent published figures of GM council employers’ contributions, see GMPF’s 2021 Annual Report p100.

Briefings and Presentations

Read more about UK Divest’s latest research on fossil fuel holdings by Local Government Pension Schemes at The Pensions Pipeline.

This briefing for councillors by UK Divest is a great introduction to the case for divestment and what has been happening in the UK.

Our Fossil Free Fact-check (updated August 2023) refutes the spurious arguments that the Greater Manchester Pension Fund uses to argue against divesting its enormous fossil fuel holdings.

We have created two presentations for use in councillor seminars. Click on the links below to download the PowerPoint presentations.

The UK Divest website also has advice for councillors on How to Pursue Divestment which includes a template council motion.