The chairman of the local government pension scheme (LGPS) advisory board has warned it would be foolish to not work with the minister as an ally.
Speaking at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association's local authority conference, councillor Roger Phillips said local government minister MP Marcus Jones should be viewed as the scheme's "champion in Whitehall".
"Let us be under no illusions - the minister is our champion in Whitehall; we need to work with him as the ally to the LGPS. That is clearly what I and members of the board will do - because to do anything other would be incredibly foolish and not in the best interests of the scheme, its members or the people who pay for it."
Phillips was speaking on a panel that discussed challenges in the LGPS including the new cost control mechanism that will shape the scheme's 2016 triennial valuation.
His comments came on the back of a speech by Jones earlier in the conference, which was criticised by some delegates for being too scripted.
However, Phillips, who became chairman of the board earlier this year, said the minister's comments were "reassuring" and had "confidence" in what he said.
"What I'm encouraged by is I feel I have a minister who is engaged in the process, who is willing, keen and proud to have the work in being responsible for the LGPS. As a board we've been through a few ministers in our time and I think he needs our support because the Department for Communities and Local Government runs this scheme. They need all the support we can give them in the world of Whitehall and we should never forget that."
Phillips added the important thing is "we have engagement - believe me that's a great achievement".
Jones was appointed minister for local government in May 2015.
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