The UK government announced today the launch of a new taskforce aimed at supporting the integration of social factors into the ESG investing practices of the country’s pension schemes.

The taskforce, a minister-led, cross department working group headed by Minister for Pensions Guy Opperman, will help pension schemes to increase focus the “S” in ESG investing, addressing the risks and opportunities relating to issues including workforce conditions, supply chains, consumer protection and forced labor, among others.

In a statement announcing the taskforce launch, Opperman noted that pension while climate and environmental issues have moved up on the agenda of pension schemes, “climate change should not be trustees’ sole consideration.”

The launch of the taskforce follows the release of results of a consultation by the UK’s Department for Works and Pensions (DWP), initiated last year, seeking feedback on how pension schemes approach social risks and opportunities. In the forward to the call to evidence report, Opperman said that the consultation indicated that there is “clearly more to do” to drive increased stewardship by the schemes on social issues, and that it is imperative that trustees “use their position and oversight to ensure that asset managers do not leave social factors off the agenda.”

According to the government statement, the new taskforce will help pension schemes identify reliable data sources and useful resources for the assessment and management of material social risks and opportunities, and contribute towards the development of wider principles, standards, and metrics.

Opperman added:

“Financially material social factors also pose risks and provide opportunities to schemes’ investments, and our taskforce will help ensure that focus on social factors continues to grow among pension schemes and throughout the investment chain.”

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