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Information about pension fund investments and risks posed by climate change

FOI reference - FOI-5057
Date - 8 September 2020

Request

  • the total value of all assets under management by pension funds
  • the total value of pension fund investments overseas
  • a list of pension funds with over 100 members
  • the number of pension funds that consider the investment risk posed by climate change
  • the number of pension providers that offer a pension scheme free from fossil fuel investments
  • the number of pension providers that offer an ESG pension scheme

Response

I can confirm that we hold information falling within scope of your request. However, we are unable to supply some of the information requested for the reasons set out below.

Information we are able to supply

  • The total value of all assets under management by pensions funds

We publish the assets for Direct Benefit (DB) and Direct Contribution (DC) schemes in our DB Landscape and DC Trust publications. Please find details and links to these below. However, I do need to clarify that this data only covers private sector-based schemes and does not include micro DC or hybrid assets. It is also important to note that schemes provide valuations with a variety of effective dates which makes aggregation problematic.

  • Total assets of DC schemes, with 12 or more memberships, excluding hybrids as of 01/01/2020 was £71.3 billion. See DC Trust Publication. File 3: Finances at the bottom of the page will break this down by scheme size.
  • Total assets of DB schemes as of 01/04/2019 was £1,700.95 billion. This is based on roll forward figures, more of which can be found in the DB Landscape publication.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) also release figures based on their Pension Survey, which might be helpful. Please see the Financial Survey of Pensions.

Information we are not able to supply

  • The total value of pension fund investments overseas

We don’t hold this information. For DB schemes, we know the proportion of equities which are overseas, but this is only a single asset class.

Again, the ONS may have some data that is relevant. In the Financial Survey of Pensions they state the following;

“Overseas investments are defined in the FSPS as those where there is a direct investment outside the UK, a financial instrument issued outside the UK or a fund registered outside the UK.

At the end of 2019, 27% of gross assets excluding derivatives of UK funded occupational pension schemes were reported as overseas. The proportion varied by type of investment: 29% of the value of investments in pooled investment vehicles related to overseas-registered vehicles, while for direct investments (shown in Figure 23) the proportions of overseas assets varied from equities (70%) to property and other assets (1%). There were also variations within these categories; for instance, although 16% of long-term debt securities including structured products are overseas, this ranged from 46% for corporate bonds to 6% for bonds issued by central governments (including UK Gilts).”

  • A list of pension funds with over 100 members

We are unable to provide this data as this is restricted under section 82 of the Pensions Act 2004 (PA04).

As we have been given strong powers to demand documents and other information from trustees, employers and others, those powers are also balanced by restrictions on how we disclose the information provided to us. The type of information you have requested would be ‘restricted information’. Restricted information is defined at section 82(4) of the PA04 as:
‘…information obtained by the Regulator in the exercise of its functions which relates to the business or other affairs of any person’. 

Under section 82(5) of the PA04 it is a criminal offence to disclose such information except as permitted under that Act.

Whilst the FoIA is based on the presumption of releasing information, section 44(1)(a) of the FoIA provides an absolute exemption to the requirement to disclose any information if its disclosure is prohibited by or under any enactment. In this case, section 82 of the PA04 prohibits disclosure and we are unable to disclose the requested information. This exemption is absolute and does not require a public interest assessment be undertaken.

You may wish to review the EIOPA list, though this comes heavily caveated, the data has aged and includes schemes with less than 100 members. However, it appears that the UK data might well have been removed in line the UK withdrawal agreement.

  • The number of pension funds that consider the investment risk posed by climate change

We do not hold this information.

However, you may wish to review the following related article on our website:

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/media-hub/press-releases/new-guidance-published-for-dc-investments

  • The number of pension providers that offer a pension scheme free from fossil fuel investments

We do not hold this information.

  • The number of pension providers that offer an ESG pension scheme

We do not hold this information. You may wish to review page 5 of the DC Survey, which is the closest related information we hold.