Public Pension Fund Deficits. The fantasy world again.

It's very hard for private pension fund trustees to know where to invest pension fund money in view of the way that governments and central banks borrow from the future in order to keep in power. But the position for public pension funds seems to be very easy to manage.

Public pension funds apparently don't have to make pension fund recovery plans like private funds. As I handed in my nomination papers it was explained to me that this was the case with the local authority, because local authorities can't go into liquidation. Someone will always take them over. I am not sure what happened when Mr Hatton was prominent in Liverpool City Council in the 1980s, but it was very close to insolvency and the Government then was not keen on accepting its deficits.

So is there magic money out there to make up shortfalls in Local-Authority (LA) pension funds if they can't meet their obligations? Who is going to find that magic money? If it's the Government, is there a fund somewhere marked 'LA Pension Fund Deficit Account'? I don't know where that is shown in the public accounts. If that money had to be found from central government, I suspect that it would be found from increased taxation, partly from people in the private sector who had funded sound pension funds. But much more likely the funds would have to be found locally.

The meeting concerning the Berkshire Pension Fund today was cancelled because it's a political issue during election "purdah" apparently, so we are unable to gain clarification from that source. I have written to Theresa May about the RBWM pension deficit, but she hasn't answered me, and the leader of the council, David Burbage, won't answer me either. In the event that the cash coming into the RBWM pension fund was less than the money going out to the beneficiaries, someone is going to have to find the money, and one way would be to draw down the money in the pension fund and increase the deficit still further. Presumably (if there is no regulation on the RBWM that makes it recover its scheme to become fully funded) that could go on until the fund had no money in it at all. You couldn't do that in a private fund because the pension's regulator, quite properly, wouldn't let you. So being allowed to adopt a policy that does not recognise the need to have a fully-funded fund means that the local authority is allowed to live in a fantasy world. Crises happen slowly, then quickly, especially in Ponzi schemes like LA pensions seem to be. At the moment when the fund was completely unfunded, either the LA would have to levy a massive additional council tax to restore the funding of the scheme, sell what little assets it still has like the Town Hall (thereby reducing its other forms of income or increasing the rents that it pays), radically reduce the pensions (if it is legally able to do that) or put the fund into liquidation.

It is outragous that public bodies do not have to maintain fully-funded pension schemes like private commerce has to. The whole value of public finances are put into question, as total LA pension-fund deficits could amount to trillions of pounds, and the teachers' pension fund is said to be unfunded.

All pension funds should have to make pension recovery plans, including LAs. The period of the recovery plan should be clear and LAs should commence collecting the funds directly. Then we would all know where we really stand instead of living in a fantasy world.

 

NB  The Present Value of the liabilities of the RBWM fund is £212.5million. The fair value of the assets in the scheme is £123.5million, leaving a deficit in value of the fund of £89 million. If the RBWM pension fund was restored in one year through council tax, it would mean a council tax payer paying £1000, would have to find a further £1348 to recover the fund.

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