THE DORSET Pension Fund has increased in value by £400 million during the year and is now worth £3.9 billion.

Returns on investments during the year stood at 11.4 per cent, although this is below the benchmark average of 12.5% for similar funds.

Pension Fund committee chairman Cllr Andy Canning (Dorchester) says the performance is probably one of the best ever for the fund which pays pensions to those who have retired from Dorset Council, the former Dorset County Council and rural Dorset former borough and district councils; Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council and its predecessor councils, as well as a range of other public sector businesses in the county.

The performance is seen as good news for all of the fund pensioners and for those still paying into the scheme.

The majority of the fund, 83per cent, is managed by the Brunel pensions partnership, which had the majority of south west councils and other public bodies as members.

Advisors to the pension fund committee say the world situation is now much better than it was a year ago when stagnation and inflation were causes for concern in some markets.

David Vickers, chief investment advisor for Brunel, told the meeting that the damage experienced by the financial industries in 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was unlikely to create as much of an impact, should anything similar affect financial markets, because of steps made since 2022 to protect investments.

He said the war and problems with energy supply had also highlighted the need for western countries, including the UK, to re-visit their energy policies and, as a result many were now becoming more sustainable, although the vast majority of energy supplies (over 90%) still remain in the hands of private companies.

He said six out of nine of the council’s main assets had out-performed expectation in the last three months and the three which did not were only slightly behind the benchmark.

“You have seen an incremental improvement since 2022, but there is the adage that markets tend to go down by the lift and up by the stairs,” he said.

Explainer - The Dorset County Pension Fund is part of the national Local Government Pension Scheme and from 2019 has been administered by Dorset Council and prior to that Dorset County Council.

It covers more than 200 employers in the area, the largest of them local government, and has over 80,000 members.

The fund is a defined benefits scheme, not affected by investment performance or market conditions although market performance does underpin the security of the fund.

Membership of the LGPS is not open to teachers, police officers,  firefighters, or civil servants, who have their own pension schemes.

The Dorset Pension Fund Committee are responsible for making investment policy, overseeing how the scheme is run and monitoring performance. The majority of its membership is drawn from Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole councils.