UK pensions social taskforce launches to address data gap

Members join and objectives finalised since announcement last summer

A pensions taskforce looking at social risks and opportunities has today launched in the UK, after its initial announcement in July last year.

The Taskforce on Social Factors will support pension scheme trustees and the wider pensions industry with some of the key challenges around managing social factors, including the identification of reliable data and metrics, which Daniel Jarman, stewardship manager at the Pension Protection Fund, said continues to be a challenge.

It was announced by then pensions minister, now minister of state at the department for work and pensions (DWP), Guy Opperman last summer following the DWP’s Consideration of social risks and opportunities by occupational pension schemes consultation.

Since then taskforce members have been selected, the terms of reference finalised and the initial meetings held to agree how the taskforce will operate and its final deliverables.

See also: – Pensions taskforce to tackle ‘tricky’ social issues

It will run for one year and has three objectives: to identify reliable data sources, monitor and report on international standards such as those from the International Sustainability Standards Board, and develop how trustees can manage risks caused by modern slavery and supply chain issues.

“Every investment has an impact on people as well as the planet and social factors are crucial for long-term investors,” said taskforce chair Luba Nikulina. “Right now, the investment industry doesn’t have a comprehensive way to measure these factors.”

Members of the taskforce include representatives from pensions schemes, asset managers, data providers, cross-industry collaboration groups and civil society. Government departments and regulators are observers on the taskforce, while DWP provides the secretariat support.

“A good measure of success for this work would be to see social factors receiving as much focus as climate change to ensure these often-interconnected factors are fully embedded into pension scheme management in line with trustees’ fiduciary duty,” said Maria Nazarova-Doyle, head of responsible investments at Scottish Widows.

Hilkka Komulainen, head of responsible investment at Aegon UK, added: “Social issues are not new considerations for investors: our economy is built on people. Through this Taskforce we seek to address the barriers of measuring and managing social matters, progress on which has to date lagged other responsible investment topics. Recognising that not every social issue that counts can be measured, I see our collective effort as a way to further bring people to the forefront of pensions investing.”

Members of the taskforce include:

  • Hilkka Komulainen, Aegon
  • Ben Howarth, Association of British Insurers
  • Stephen Barrie, Church of England Pension Board
  • Luba Nikulina, IFM Investors
  • Joe Dharampal-Hornby, Impact Investing Institute
  • Paul Lee, Investment Consultants Sustainability Working Group
  • Doug McMurdo, Local Authority Pension Fund Forum
  • Sarah Wilson, Minerva Analytics
  • Daniel Jarman, Pension Protection Fund
  • Valeria Piani, Phoenix Group
  • Joe Dabrowski, PLSA
  • Caroline Escott, RailPen
  • Maria Nazarova-Doyle, Scottish Widows
  • Rachel Howarth, ShareAction
  • James Alexander, UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association

Government department and regulator observers:

  • Department for business, energy and industrial strategy (although the taskforce was not able to say which of the new departments emerging out of BEIS would be observing)
  • Department for culture, media and sport
  • Department for work and pensions (secretariat)
  • Financial Conduct Authority
  • Financial Reporting Council
  • Foreign commonwealth and development office
  • HM Treasury
  • The Pensions Regulator


Natasha Turner

Natasha was global editor at ESG Clarity, part of Mark Allen Financial, and a financial journalist for seven years. She has been shortlisted for Story of the Year and Investment Journalist of the Year...