Millions of people around the UK are part of The Local Government Pension Scheme which allows local government to decide how best to invest their pension money. It also means that if the local population do not agree with how their money is invested they can hold their counsellors to account with the threat of losing their job at the next election, strikes, petitions and other pressures.
This system ensures that British citizens have much more control over their pensions than they would have under a centralised system. This also means that minorities have a greater voice in their own affairs, the BME community often have a greater proportional voice in the Local Authority than at the Central Government level.
In November 2015 the Tory Government announced plans to give the ‘power of intervention’ to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which would effectively remove people’s power to have their pensions invested how they want – or stop them being invested in ways they don’t want.
So what does this mean in reality? It means that if a Local Authority decided they no longer wanted to invest their pension funds in companies involved in dirty fuels, the arms trade or any other industry the local people are opposed to the Central Government could block this decision, effectively putting the wants of large corporations above the wishes of the local people. The biggest repercussions of this fall on the BDS movement which David Cameron has openly declared resistance to saying “we will always oppose boycotts [of Israel]”.
This is a direct attack on local democracy, taking away a critical tool for people to speak out against government policy. Why need the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government be able to intervene in how Local Authorities invest their money if not to protect Central Government’s interests at the expense of local people?
Muslim Climate Action disagrees wholeheartedly with this attempt to restrict the voice of local people and especially the profound effects this will have on minority communities all over the UK. In a democracy we should be able to affect decisions on how our money is invested and this attempt to take that right away is unscrupulous, unfair and undemocratic.