Anti-smoking Wandsworth Council uses tobacco firms to boost pension

An employer that wants to ensure its benefits provision is closely married with its corporate social responsibility strategy will probably not want to take a leaf out of Wandsworth Council’s book.

It has transpired the council’s pension fund managers have invested £4.6m in British American Tobacco and hold £2.3m of shares in Imperial Tobacco of as part of its pensions portfolio.

This comes at a time when the council has been avidly supporting the NHS Stop Smoking Scheme, set to receive £628,000 of public money this year, as part of efforts to get 1,256 people in the local area to kick the habit.

Perhaps the move, designed to obtain the best possible financial return on pension investments, will prevent yet another final salary scheme going up in smoke.

A statement from Wandsworth Council said: “The council has a paramount fiduciary duty to obtain the best possible financial return on its pension fund investments. As the law stands, any shortfall in the fund’s performance would have to be met by taxpayers, so it is important these investments make the best possible return so taxpayers are not burdened unnecessarily.

“These investments are managed by independent fund managers who invest in hundreds of different companies and continually keep these investments under review. “

Maybe the council could exploit the relationships it has with some of the world’s biggest tobacco companies further by getting them to stump up the cash to fund any anti-smoking campaign it may want to run in the future. The possibilities are endless.†