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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Harnessing the Power of Pension Funds

Friday, 30 November 2018

As many of you may already know, as well as being the Executive Leader of Tameside Council I am also the Chair of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF). Administered by the council, the GMPF is the largest public sector pension fund in the country, with an asset pool of £24 billion and a membership base of 370,000 people from 560 separate employers.

In my role as Chair, it was my pleasure to be in attendance on a remarkable day for Manchester on 15th November, as we celebrated the topping out of Deansgate Square. Based in the southern edge of the city centre, the development consists of four skyscrapers, one of which now stands as not only the tallest building in Manchester, but the tallest building in the country outside of London. But Deansgate Square is much more than an attempt to out-do the Beetham Tower. Once complete it will provide first-class accommodation and amenities in the very heart of Manchester, and will serve as a catalyst for the regeneration of an area of the city that has lain derelict for years.

This is the point where you might be asking “What does the Pension Fund have to do with a building in Manchester?” The GMPF has supported the construction of Deansgate Square through a £30 million loan facility via its property investment fund, the Greater Manchester Property Venture Fund. Since its establishment in 1990, the GMPVF has developed more than 1 million square feet of commercial buildings within the Greater Manchester region. Our portfolio includes the former Colgate Palmolive factory in Salford, an industrial park in Rochdale and the BBC site on Oxford Road in the city centre. We are also a partner with the Manchester Airport Group and the Beijing Construction and Engineering Group in the development of the £800 million Airport City project. Working in partnership with local authorities, the Pension Fund also set up Matrix Homes, whose innovative development programme has led to the successful construction of 240 high-quality family homes across five sites in Manchester, with more to come in the future.

Tameside itself has also benefitted from significant investment by the GMPF. The base of operations for the fund is the state-of-the-art Guardsman Tony Downes House in Droylsden, and many of the buildings and infrastructure made possible by the fund’s work, whether they’re in the borough or further afield, provide direct benefits, employment opportunities and life improvements to many of our residents.  We’re also looking at options for developing the Fund’s plots of land in Stalybridge, bringing further housing and business opportunities to one of our towns.

All of these investments have been guided by the Pension Fund’s twin aims; providing a commercial return that will allow us to continue to meet our obligations to our members, and supporting the redevelopment and regeneration of our local area. We’re interested in doing well, but in our view doing good is just as important.

Pension Funds are in a unique position to make this a reality, as our financial strength means that we can deliver the firepower necessary to make significant developments happen. We’re also an investor for the long term. Whereas governments or private companies may be wary of investments that may not provide a quick return, these are absolutely ideal for us given the nature of a pension fund’s obligations to its members. Finally, and I truly believe that this is the most important reason; we are embedded within our local communities. Providing our members with comfort and dignity in their retirement and investing in things that make their lives better is at the very heart of who we should be as a pension fund.

When looking at it that way you can see the true significance of the ceremony at Deansgate Square. As impressive as it was, it is but one piece of the GMPF’s wider ambition for Greater Manchester. It’s an ambition of a city region of opportunity for all, a city region of world-class infrastructure and productivity, a city region that is the best place in the UK, if not the world, to live and work. Rest assured that the Greater Manchester Pension Fund and all those who work there will continue to do what needs to be done to make that ambition a reality.


Posted by: Executive Leader