Chancellor to announce local council pensions to be pooled as investment tool

The Chancellor will make his speech to Conservative activists today Yui Mok/PA Wire

The Chancellor will make his speech to Conservative activists today Yui Mok/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The pensions of local council employees will be pooled to create vast wealth funds to help fund major infrastructure projects, the chancellor will announce today.

George Osborne will tell the Conservative Party conference that a new independent infrastructure commission will look at where major infrastructure projects such as rail links, power stations and airports should be built.

It will be headed by former Labour cabinet minister Lord Adonis, who will become a crossbench peer.

Under his plans, which will be set out today, he will say that the current 89 local authority pension pots will be pooled to create half a dozen 'British Wealth Funds' each with assets of more than £25bn which can be invested in infrastructure.

The current smaller pension funds invest about 0.5pc of their total £180bn of assets on infrastructure. The chancellor claims this is because of their lack of expertise.

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Mr Osborne will say; 'Where would Britain be if we had never built railways or runways, power stations or new homes? Where will we be in the future if we stop building them now?

'I am not prepared to turn around to my children – or indeed anyone else's child and say I'm sorry we didn't build for you.'

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He will also say that the National Infrastructure Commission, an idea announced by the former shadow chancellor Ed Balls, will set out a long-term plan for the national infrastructure needs at the start of each parliament.

It will be able to commission research and call for evidence from public sector bodies and private sector experts. Sources suggest that there would be a two-tier infrastructure plan with devolved regions setting out their policies and the national policy for the bigger projects.

Mr Osborne will say: 'We have to shake Britain out of its inertia on the projects that matter most.'

The commission will be overseen by a small board, appointed by the chancellor. It will start work immediately, with an initial focus on coming up with a plan to transform connections in the Northern cities and advise on the next large-scale investment in London's transport infrastructure.

It will also advise what the UK's power system should look like, including how energy should be stored and connected.

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