Western Isles & Highland councils consider affordable homes pension fund investments

John Finnie
John Finnie

Comhairle nan Eilean Siarhas agreed to explore the possibility of investing a portion of the pension fund it shares with The Highland Council in building social and affordable housing.

Malcolm Burr, chief executive of the Western Isles council, has confirmed that the proposal will be discussed at the next meeting of the Highland Council Pension Fund.

The announcement comes after Falkirk’s Local Government Pension Scheme Fund invested £30 million in the Housing Fund for Scotland. The Falkirk investment is expected to fund the construction of over 300 affordable homes, and the Fund aims to raise a total of £150m and build over 1,000 new homes.

Independent MSP John Finnie, who wrote to all six local authorities in the Highlands and Islands region asking them to consider following the lead of Falkirk Council, said he was “delighted both authorities are to consider this community focused option”.

Mr Finnie has also lodged a Parliamentary Question asking that the MSP’s pension fund follows Falkirk Council’s example.

He said: “I’m very grateful to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for this positive response, and delighted that both the Western Isles and Highland will be considering investing for community benefit.

“The Highlands and Islands are in urgent need of high-quality affordable and social housing, and pension fund members would be among those who benefited from that. It makes sense to invest their money in ways that will do good now as well as growing strongly to provide for their retirement.

“The Housing Fund shows that there are socially useful alternatives to bankrolling destructive industries like fossil fuels, weapons and tobacco. I’d like to see us all using our investment power to grow the industries that we need instead of those that harm us.”

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