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Kent County Council lose £60m from Woodford Equity Income Fund

More than £60m has been wiped off the value of Kent County Council's pension investment in Neil Woodford's flagship fund as the crisis deepens.

A council report shows KCC's pension holding was worth £198.5m at the end of October, down significantly from £260m seven months earlier on March 31.

Investment manager Neil Woodford issued an apology after suspending trading in one of his funds
Investment manager Neil Woodford issued an apology after suspending trading in one of his funds

This comes just over four weeks since Mr Woodford announced his company would be winding down, which KCC were not told about and whose investment remains trapped inside.

KCC's superannuation fund committee met behind closed doors last Friday at Maidstone County Hall to discuss the latest alarming financial report on the valuation of its Woodford investment.

The Local Democracy Reporting service understands the KCC superannuation committee pointed towards the "volatile" nature of market valuations during the meeting, which some members said can fluctuate up and down.

Cllr Martin Whybrow (Green) voiced his anger over the lack of public scrutiny towards the continuing devaluation of the fund.

The Folkestone and Hythe member said: "This is an absolute prime example of a lack of transparency, democracy and accountability to the pension holders.

"Soon the shares will be worth less than the paper they are written on..." Cllr Barry Lewis

"We still don't know answers to fundamental questions, such as how this happened in the first place."

The ongoing Woodford saga has rumbled on for months and publicly came to a head after KCC and hundreds of other investors were blocked from withdrawing their money from Mr Woodford's Equity Income Fund in May.

Cllr Barry Lewis (Lab) added: "As stated previously, the lack of confidence in shares is shown by the £10m drop a month in value."

He added: "Soon the shares will be worth less than the paper they are written on."

It is believed KCC's superannuation fund committee focused on more positive aspects during Friday's meeting, notably the overall value of its pension investments.

Kent County Council HQ
Kent County Council HQ

The total value of KCC pension investments are £6.423bn, according to the latest figures, which marks a 3.3 per cent increase from January this year.

Cllr Charlie Simkins (Con), chairman of the KCC's superannuation fund committee, has previously said payments to Wooford's investors, including KCC, will not take place until January at the earliest.

KCC's next superannuation fund committee meeting has been scheduled for February 7 next year.

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