Property holdings in Pension Fund

Samuel Hall made this Freedom of Information request to Northumberland County Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Northumberland County Council,

I would like to request the following information:

1) The full details of what real estate assets the Northumberland Pension Fund currently invests in, including the name and amounts of each type of real estate asset or investment being held.

This information should be broken down into the different
categories, including:
- Listed Real Estate securities;
Unlisted/Private Real Estate Property Funds/vehicles, companies or CIS;
- Directly held properties ; and
- (listed/unlisted) Real Estate Debt Funds/vehicles.

In the case of any unlisted real estate vehicles or real estate debt vehicles, the domicile of the underlying assets should be included.

A full list of all the companies, vehicles, CIS etc in which the Pension Fund invests in or has an outstanding commitment to should be covered in the above question. This list should include the names of each company and the amount invested in each company etc.

2) The current yields of the different investments the pension fund holds.

3) Can you clearly specify the total value of all real estate investments that the Pension Fund holds.

4) I would like to receive this information in an unlocked excel sheet without protected cells (.xls). If you have to password protect the excel sheet, please can you also provide the password to the excel
sheet.
5) Please supply a copy of the Pension Scheme’s latest Statement of Investment Principles and most recent Pension Fund Report & Accounts.
I would like to receive the information in electronic format if possible. If one part of the request can be answered sooner than others, please send that information first followed by any subsequent data. If you need further clarification, please contact me by email.

Many public authorities release their contracts, minutes and other information of interactions with private vendors in line with the Freedom of Information Act. The exemption for commercial interest
under the Act (section 43) is a qualified exemption, which means information can only be withheld if it is in the public's interest.
The public have an interest in knowing what the Pension Fund is investing in, the terms of contracts and the minutes of meeting with public authorities, whether or not public money changes hands immediately.

If you are relying on section 41 (the exemption for legal breach of confidence) then I would like to know the following:

* When these confidentially agreements were agreed
* All correspondence and email in which these confidentiality agreements were discussed
* The precise wording of the confidentiality agreements.

I ask these questions because guidance issued by both the Lord Chancellor (draft guidance on FOI implementation) and the Office of Government Commerce (Model terms and conditions for goods and services) specifically state that public authorities should not enter into these types of agreements; they go directly against the spirit of the laws of disclosure. I would also point to the
Information Commissioner's guidance on accepting blanket commercial confidentiality agreements: 'Unless confidentiality clauses are necessary or reasonable, there is a real risk that, in the event of
a complaint, the Commissioner would order disclosure in any case.'(i)

Finally, within the law of confidence there is also a public interest test. Therefore, the information should be disclosed in full. If any parts are redacted they must be for information that can be proven to be a legal breach of confidence in court, and only then where secrecy can be shown to be in the public interest. These are difficult positions to argue when public money is at stake or where a public authority is offering a private company a monopoly to charge its stakeholders.

I reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to charge excessive fees, and understand that under the act, I am entitled to a response within 20 working days. I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request.

Yours faithfully,

Samuel Hall

Northumberland County Council

1 Attachment

Our Ref: 5551  

Dear Enquirer,

INFORMATION REQUEST

Thank you for your request for information which will be dealt with under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, we
will let you know the likely charges before proceeding.

If you have any queries about this matter please contact us. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Kind regards

Information Governance Office
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland
NE61 2EF

Tel: 0345 600 6400
Email: [Northumberland County Council request email]
Web: http://www.northumberland.gov.uk

Northumberland County Council

5 Attachments

Our Ref: 5551   

Dear Enquirer,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST 

I refer to your Freedom of Information request in relation to property
holdings in Pension Funds.

Right of Access 

Section 1(1) of the Act provides any person making a request for
information to a public authority is entitled. 

(a) to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds
information of the description specified in the request (which Section
1(6) of the Act designates as the "duty to confirm or deny"), and 

(b) if that is the case, to have that information communicated to him. 

The right is to obtain access to the information itself and not to the
document or record which contains it. 

The Act creates a general right of access to information held by public
authorities subject to various exemptions. 

Northumberland County Council confirms that it holds the information you
have requested, please see the following information in response. 
1) The full details of what real estate assets the Northumberland Pension
Fund currently invests in, including the name and amounts of each type of
real estate asset or investment being held.
This information should be broken down into the different
categories, including:
- Listed Real Estate securities; 
Unlisted/Private Real Estate Property Funds/vehicles, companies or CIS;
- Directly held properties ; and
- (listed/unlisted) Real Estate Debt Funds/vehicles. 
In the case of any unlisted real estate vehicles or real estate debt
vehicles, the domicile of the underlying assets should be included.
A full list of all the companies, vehicles, CIS etc in which the Pension
Fund invests in or has an outstanding commitment to should be covered in
the above question. This list should include the names of each company and
the amount invested in each company etc.
NCCPF currently has holdings in three Property Unit Trusts;
- BlackRock UK Property Fund 
- Schroder UK Real Estate Fund 
- Rockspring Hannover Property Unit Trust 
 Out of the categories listed above, these would likely fall under the one
highlighed (i.e. 'Unlisted/Private Real Estate Property Funds/Vehicles
etc'). The attached Q4 December 2018 investment reports include all
relevant information regarding amounts invested, market value, yield etc,
as at 31 December 2018. Please note, the Fund's holding in Rockspring is
particularly small, and this currently sits within the Schroder portfolio,
hence the reason for only two Q4 Reports (BlackRock and Schroder).
2) The current yields of the different investments the pension fund holds.
See Q4 Reports as per previous question. 
3) Can you clearly specify the total value of all real estate investments
that the Pension Fund holds.
The attached Q4 Reports detail market values at 31 December 2018 for each
of the Fund's PUTs.
4) I would like to receive this information in an unlocked excel sheet
without protected cells (.xls). If you have to password protect the excel
sheet, please can you also provide the password to the excel
sheet.
5) Please supply a copy of the Pension Scheme’s latest Statement of
Investment Principles and most recent Pension Fund Report & Accounts. 
I would like to receive the information in electronic format if possible.
If one part of the request can be answered sooner than others, please send
that information first followed by any subsequent data. If you need
further clarification, please contact me by email.
The latest Investment Strategy Statement (December 2018) for NCCPF is
attached, along with the 2017/2018 NCC Pension Fund Annual Report and
Accounts. 
These documents are also available on the Northumberland County Council
website.
Complaints 

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been
handled, you can request an internal review by writing within 2 months
from the date of this response to the Information Governance Office: 

Information Governance Office
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
NE61 2EF 

Email: [Northumberland County Council request email] 

Information Commissioner 

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have a
right by Section 50 of the Act to apply to the Information Commissioner
for a decision as to whether your request has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act at: 

The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire 
SK9 5AF 

Tel: 01625 545 745
Email: [email address

There is no charge for making an appeal. 

Yours sincerely 

FOI Coordinator 
Information Governance Office
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland
NE61 2EF

Tel: 0345 600 6400
Email: [Northumberland County Council request email] 
Web: http://www.northumberland.gov.uk