Agenda and minutes

Venue: John Meikle Room, The Deane House, Belvedere Road, Taunton TA1 1HE. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services Email: 


No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from Cllr Peter Seib


Declarations of Interest

Details of all Members’ interests in District, Town and Parish Councils will be

displayed in the meeting room.  The Statutory Register of Member’s Interests can be inspected via the Community Governance team.

(The other registrable interests of Councillors of Somerset Council, arising from membership of City, Town or Parish Councils and other Local Authorities will automatically be recorded in the minutes: City, Town & Parish Twin Hatters - Somerset Councillors 2023 )


There were none.



Minutes from the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 121 KB

To approve the minutes from the previous meeting.


The minutes of the previous meeting held on 15 September 2023 were proposed by Cllr Habib Farbahi and seconded by Cllr Simon Coles and carried unanimously.



Public Question Time

The Chair will allow members of the public to present a petition on any matter within the Committee’s remit.  Questions or statements about any matter on the agenda for this meeting will be taken at the time when each matter is considered.

The Chair to advise the Committee of any items on which members of the public have requested to speak and advise those members of the public present of the details of the Council’s public participation scheme.

For those members of the public who have submitted any questions or statements, please note, a three minute time limit applies to each speaker and you will be asked to speak before Councillors debate the issue.

We are now live webcasting most of our committee meetings and you are welcome to view and listen to the discussion. The link to each webcast will be available on the meeting webpage, please see details under ‘click here to join online meeting’.


The following statement was put to the Committee by Mr Sigurd Reimers which was an excerpt from an online article regarding Wiltshire’s plans to divest from fossil fuels by 2030. The article can be found at: Wiltshire Pension Fund to divest all fossil fuel assets by 2030 - Net Zero Investor.


The Committee considered the article.



Independent Investment Advisor's Report

To receive a verbal update on developments in financial markets.


The Independent Investment Advisor gave an update in which she highlighted the movement on the markets stating that in December the markets were up a bit as a result of rumours regarding rate cuts which would probably be in effect by late spring.


She further stated that inflation rates could slacken in the new year and that February was not really a good month for markets.



Review of Investment Performance pdf icon PDF 172 KB

To consider this report from the Funds & Investments Manager.

Additional documents:


The Funds and Investment Manager presented his Investment Performance report and pointed out:

· Despite skittish markets, UK equities and corporate bonds performed quite strongly. UK Government debt has had another really poor quarter.  Overall returns where a small positive.


· The fund continues struggle to keep up with the actuarial target for this three year cycle and that it was more likely to underperform on that target than outperform it for the three years.


The Fund has a strategic target to invest 5% in private equity and the Pension Committee made a commitment to every two years to an amount to a cycle, which then takes up to 10 years to invest and return that money.  As each new commitment comes up Committee are requested to confirm their consent There is an officer recommendation of a £70m commitment to this Brunel cycle as this is consistent with the 5% target In the long run.


Cllr Simon Coles proposed the consideration to approve the commitment of £70 million to the Brunel private equity cycle beginning the 1st of April 2024 which was seconded by Cllr David Fothergill.


Having been duly proposed and seconded the Pension Fund Committee RESOLVED to approve the consideration.



Review of Administration Performance pdf icon PDF 379 KB

To consider this report from the Head of Peninsula Pensions.


The Head of Peninsula Pensions presented her report on Administrative Performance and highlighted:


·     During the quarter ending the end of September 2023, total performance in Target was 92% with 94% against the higher priorities and additional details have been included in relation to the complaints that are mentioned and are within that quarter, as requested by the Somerset Board.


·     The amount of work received over the previous 12 months compared to the previous year which showed a slight decrease in work and which is different to the recent trend.


·     McLeod remedies were now moving forward that the regulations were in place from the 1st of October, but because they were only approved in September nationally, the database providers have had some issues however, this should be in operation by January. This has meant some of the work has to have been done on a manual basis by the team and this has  allowed others to continue with the business as usual cases to keep the workflow running smoothly.


·     Peninsula Pensions have been reviewing the pension administration strategy and were consulting with employers at the moment which should be finished at the end of December.


·     They spoke with employers at the November meetings about the changes that they were looking at making and the strategy considerations, disclosure regulations and the internal targets for peninsula and the expected performance of individual employers. They shared a link with everyone which pointed out the key changes they were looking at making. The most contentious one being that they have strengthened their section with regard to charging for underperformance and lack of engagement.


·     Currently for the Somerset fund there are 141 employers that have outstanding cases and which have been outstanding longer than a month.  In total there was over 1200 Members that cannot be finalised because the information needed had not be provided.


·     Peninsula has been able to provide the annual benefit statements within the statutory deadline of the 31st of August.


The Pension Fund Committee noted the report and actions being undertaken by officers to ensure compliance and best practice.





Business Plan Update pdf icon PDF 179 KB

To consider this report from the Head of Peninsula Pensions.

Additional documents:


The Funds and Investment Manager updated the Committee on the ongoing discussions with Brunel.


He mentioned that they were currently in the process of tendering the actuary contract jointly with Devon County Council as it was inherently inefficient and awkward for peninsula pensions in running two pension funds for them to have different actuaries because actuaries have slightly different ways of working and different web portals.


The Funds and Investment Manager explained that they would appoint the same company, but would sign separate contracts. This meant that it would be 2 contracts, but one company appointed. The current contract will come to an end on 31st March.


In response to a question about whether changing actuaries would see a change in funding levels etc, the Investments Manager confirmed that may be the case.


Next the Fund and Investment Manager discussed the Government's response to the consultation that was discussed at previous meeting. He affirmed that, despite, significant negative feedback to the Government they were going to go ahead with all of their recommendations.


The Pension Fund Committee noted the progress on the business plan.



Finance and Membership Statistics Update pdf icon PDF 188 KB

To consider this report from the Funds & Investments Manager.


The Committee considered the finance and membership statistics update and noted the report.   



Review of Pension Fund Risk Register pdf icon PDF 180 KB

To consider this report from the Funds & Investments Manager.

Additional documents:


The Fund and Investment Manager presented the report noting that, after an offline session with the Pension Committee and Pension Board together, there had been a number of changes and amendments to the risk register. 


After some deliberations surrounding these issues, the Committee noted the report and agreed to continue to monitor the risks contained on the risk register and approve any amendments.



Knowledge and Skills

To receive a verbal update on plans for training of the Committee.


The Fund and Investment Manager gave a verbal update on plans for training of the Committee.

He highlighted that he encouraged all members to verify an email which contained links to a portal where they would be able to demonstrate their expertise.

He further affirmed that next year the focus of the training will be around building up to the decision round investment strategy.



Any Other Business of Urgency

The Chair may raise any items of urgent business.


There was none.