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Council news

Statement on pensions investments

11th June 2021
Cllr Robert Chapman, Chair of the Council’s Pensions Committee, said: "I would like to respond to concerns about the Local Government Pension Scheme Fund’s investments in companies associated with the recent tragedy in the Middle East. "I share the feeling of sadness and anger at the events in Israel and Palestine recently. Now that a ceasefire has been agreed, I hope that the international community will continue to push for a long-lasting solution to the conflict, secure a two-state solution and peace. "Because, caught in the middle of these all too frequent wars, are the civilians of Israel and Palestine. I understand that 279 Palestinians, including 66 children, and 12 Israelis, including two children, died in the latest conflict ─ each death is a tragedy."First, I want to be clear that Hackney Council does not directly invest council taxpayers’ money in companies. The Pension Fund’s assets are managed by external managers, with oversight from the Council’s Pensions Committee, which I chair. "The Committee has recently reviewed the Fund's investment strategy and will be making some significant changes in order to move to a greener and more sustainable portfolio. The Pensions Committee also firmly believes that human rights issues ─ as well as environmental, and social issues ─ are vital considerations when making investment decisions, and as such, we will also be reviewing our Pensions Fund’s responsible investment policies. As part of this, we will continue to monitor relevant legislation, court decisions and other developments. "The Council’s pension fund is an active member of the national Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) which acts collectively using the weight of its 82 member Funds to champion responsible investment. The forum is actively engaging with companies cited by the UN as being involved in certain specified activities related to the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory."However, the Pensions Committee’s primary duty is a financial one ─ to ensure that the Fund is able to pay pension benefits to its members when they become due. This is reflected in the Law Commission’s guidance that states that non-financial decisions cannot be made if they risk significant financial detriment. "Staff members’ and former staff members' pensions are invested so that the Pension Fund does not enter into a deficit and has enough money to continue paying out pensions when they are due. As such, the Fund cannot make investment decisions based on moral or political grounds alone. "The investments are a small part of a very large pooled investments and the Fund has no direct holdings in any company through its equity portfolios. However, we have been advised that the transition costs that the fund would be exposed to in moving away from these particular investments would be significant and therefore likely to conflict with our overarching fiduciary duty. "For example, in the case of Elbit Systems, the Pension Fund’s stake in this company in December 2020 only amounted to approximately £34,500 - , 0.01% of the particular external investment fund that the holding is contained within, that whole investment fund was valued at £344.8 million. "It is not possible for our Pensions Committee to direct the disposal of any particular holding within the investment fund. The only way of disinvesting would be to dispose of the whole investment fund and I have been advised that should the Pension Fund seek to do that we could incur costs and fees totalling as much as £1.5 million."While we cannot commit to any form of divestment that we believe might lead to financial detriment and potential breach of Law Commission guidance, responsible investment remains at the forefront of the Committee’s agenda."  

17,000 of Hackney's most vulnerable residents still un-vaccinated

11th June 2021
Data on Hackney’s vaccine rollout show that around 17,000 of the most at risk residents - those over 60 or clinically extremely vulnerable - are still unvaccinated. Meaning that they are at risk of serious illness, hospitalisation, and even death due to Covid-19.Almost 900 million people worldwide have safely received at least one dose of the vaccine, including over 40 million people in the UK. Having both doses of the vaccines is the best protection against Covid-19.By getting the vaccination you are not only protecting yourself, your loved ones but also the most vulnerable in the community by reducing the chances of spreading Covid-19 to others. About 1 in 3 people can be infected with no symptoms but still spread Covid-19 to the most vulnerable and getting vaccinated massively reduces this risk. This warning from Public Health comes as Hackney saw a 56% increase in cases from the previous week. Reports show that cases of the Delta variant (previously known as the so-called Indian variant) are on the rise in the UK, with latest figures in the week to 2 June showing a total of 278 people with the Delta variant attended hospital emergency departments, and 94 people were admitted to hospital overnight. Most of those admitted had not been vaccinated.Those aged 25 and over can now book their vaccination on the NHS portal or by calling 119. New appointments on the portal are updated regularly. There are also planned pop-up clinics taking place in Hackney, such as the Thursday clinics at St Leonard’s Hospital for those aged 40+ who need their first dose of the vaccine, or people who are due their second dose of Astrazeneca. Find out more.Find out more information on the vaccination rollout and answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on the Council website. 
Blog from the Speaker of Hackney: Building on Hackney’s successes
In the first installment of his new monthly blog, the Speaker of Hackney Cllr Michael Desmond writes about what it means to be successful and how this relates to our borough: “Hackney is a flagship London local authority, which was awarded the title, “Best Council of the past 20 years” by the Local Government Chronicle. Hackney, they said, “had redefined the standards for what councils can achieve. It believes that great local government can transform places and change lives.”“Within the past two decades, Hackney has gone from one of the worst-performing local authorities in the country to one of the best – wow, what a success! This achievement in turning it around is remarkable – especially after the austerity that we have faced. But despite our successes over the years, these are difficult times, and many of our residents are experiencing stress, hardship and financial pressure.“When unexpected and challenging problems beset us, it’s sometimes useful to take stock; Have we made a success of our lives, what is success, how can we become more successful? “Being successful doesn’t mean you’re better than anyone – or even that you’re better than others in the thing you’re supposed to be successful at! It does mean, however, that you do your best, you are goal-oriented and you find fulfilment and satisfaction in using your talents. A visiting teacher at my primary school for the Harvest Festival pointed out that everyone has some special talent; it’s worth discovering what it may be and making the most of it. “In Hackney, we have a number of young councillors who have achieved a great deal. The Deputy Speaker, Cllr Humaira Garasia is in her early 20’s and was a former member of Hackney’s Youth Parliament; Cllr Mete Coban, MBE is Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Energy, Waste, Transport and Public Realm; and Cllr Clare Joseph, who has a young baby, has shown energy, commitment and determination helping and supporting her constituents.“During my term in office, I will be raising much-needed funds for St Joseph’s Hospice and the Hackney Empire – both well loved and successful organisations. You can get involved by raising funds through a sponsored event, Facebook appeal, attending and participating in events we arrange later in the year (subject to Covid regulations) or making a donation. Follow my official Twitter and Facebook pages to stay posted on upcoming events and find out more about how you can get involved.“In the months and years ahead, more change is on its way as we work to rebuild a fairer, greener and healthier Hackney. Together, we can make Hackney even more successful, dynamic and inclusive, as we emerge from the pandemic. Let’s also try to make the most of all of our lives, as individuals, in our families and communities. As the old saying goes, nothing succeeds like success.”
9th June 2021
Rebuilding a fairer Hackney - Green light given for £1.5 million revamp of West Reservoir Centre
Hackney’s West Reservoir Centre will undergo work to the tune of £1.5m to make it more accessible for children and adults alike, as part of Council efforts to rebuild a fairer and healthier Hackney as we emerge from the pandemic. New cycle parking, a space for land-based equipment to support triathlon training, additional showers, a new cafe and a pontoon pool tank for safer open water swimming are just some of the improvements that are set to be made to the popular watersports centre as part of the £1.5m funding injection, which was approved at Cabinet last week. The improvements, which will boost activities available to families, children and adults, follow the recent installation of power-generating solar panels on the centre’s roof as part of an initiative launched by Hackney Light and Power, the Council’s publicly-owned energy company. There will also be £500,000 spent on funding a learners pool at London Fields Lido for children and adults who are learning to swim, and £100,000 will pay for the replacement of floor tiles and the sports hall floor at Clissold Park Leisure Centre - as part of further measures given the green light this week.Other improvements that will be made to the West Reservoir Centre include: The replacement of all pontoons to support safer and more controlled open water swimmingCycle parking at the front of the main buildingTransforming the existing cafe into a bar area for eventsOutside showers for open water swimmingAn external sauna and steam room A new entrance to the west side of the building through the existing foyer to leave the main pump room for eventsNew fencing to enable the east of the site to be locked at nightA new security fence behind the houses on the east of the reservoir
7th June 2021