DORSET Council is to consider how it manages its pension fund investments with Russian companies amid the country's invasion of Ukraine.

The authority is due to consider what it describes as 'indirect exposure' it has to Russian companies through pension fund investments, at a meeting of its pension fund committee.

The Dorset County Pension Fund is managed by Brunel Pension Partnership. Including Dorset Council, there are nine local authorities across the south west plus the Environment Agency in the partnership.

The council has estimated £5m of their investments with the Brunel Pension Partnership 'have some exposure' to Russian companies through an emerging markets equity fund.

At the meeting next Thursday, the council said it will also discuss diverting its pension fund away from investment in fossil fuels.

The non-affiliated campaign group South West Action on Pensions (SWAP) have been pressing Dorset Council to act with more urgency and align the pension fund with their declared climate and ecological emergency since Sept 2019.

A spokesperson for Dorset Council said: “First and foremost, we are deeply saddened by the recent tragic events in Ukraine. Our hope is for peace and for an end to so much unnecessary suffering.

“We do have some indirect exposure to Russian companies through the pension fund’s investments in an emerging markets equity fund managed by Brunel Pension Partnership, Dorset’s investment pooling manager. The value of this exposure is estimated to be approximately £5m or 0.13% of the pension fund’s total assets of £3.8bn.

"This matter will be considered by the Pension Fund Committee when it meets next Thursday, 10 March.

"We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and our reliance on fossil fuels. Along with significant investment over the next five years in services for residents and in our buildings, we are working to divert our pension fund away from investment in fossil fuels.”

A statement from the Brunel Pension Partnership said: "The situation in Ukraine is horrifying to us from a humanitarian perspective. Our first hope is for peace and for an end to so much unnecessary suffering.

"Our vision statement is 'forging better futures by investing for a world worth living in'. The actions taken by Russia stand in direct contravention to this ethos and, ultimately, to our Responsible Investment (RI) principles.

"Clearly the invasion, ensuing sanctions and investor responses are also having an impact on broad asset markets. Obviously, Russia remains the epicentre. Through the region generally, there is also the risk of stranded assets.

"Thus, both our RI principles and our investment due diligence lead us to believe the investment outlook for these assets has materially changed.

"Over the last week, we have liaised extensively with our managers, investment partners and stakeholders to understand the shorter-term market effects, so as to measure and manage our exposure."

A spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA) said: “It is up to individual councils to decide how to act locally but, like many organisations, they will be reviewing what action they might want to take in light of UK sanctions and the ongoing situation.”