Council pension schemes face changes as Whitehall and local government leaders try to better co-ordinate the 89 funds in England and Wales.
The Department for Communities and Local Government and the Local Government Association issued a 'call for evidence' today. It asks for ideas to address both deficits in individual funds and improve the investment returns through greater collaboration within the Local Government Pension Scheme.
Suggestions are wanted for how to improve the 'flexibility' of funds' investment strategies and to make administration more cost-effective. Views are also sought on how to improve the accountability of the schemes to local councils and taxpayers by improving the availability of transparent and comparable data across funds on costs and income.
The initiative comes after local government minister Brandon Lewis set out plans for a 'root-and-branch review' of the LGPS's investment regulations last month.
Submissions will lead to a consultation on a number of broad principles for updating the LGPS regulations to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness later this year. Lewis had already indicated this is likely to examine possible scheme mergers.
LGA chair Sir Merrick Cockell said pension funds worked hard on behalf of taxpayers and pension holders to deliver high quality management. While the performance was generally very high, it was important to continue to look at ways to find new savings, he added.
'This call for evidence is an opportunity to build on the excellent progress we have made in recent times, which has included the introduction of new governance rules next year which will make it easier to compare performance and identify possible savings.
'Local government has long been the most efficient and innovative part of the public sector and this is an opportunity to live up to and reinforce that reputation.'
The possible reforms come as preparations are made to introduce new scheme terms from April 2014 following a number of government reforms to public sector pensions. These include an increase in the retirement age and increased contributions, and are being introduced by the Public Sector Pensions Act.
The call for evidence closes on September 27.