Government accused of giving mineworkers a 'slap in the face' over pensions report

The Government has been accused of delivering a “slap in the face” to mineworker pensioners after rejecting calls by MPs to make reforms.

By Fiona Thompson
Monday, 5th July 2021, 12:05 am

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee urged ministers to tackle a “historic injustice” and transfer £1.2 billion to the fund, giving a £14 increase to the average weekly pension of £84.

Now the committee has published the Government’s response, which rejected the recommendations.

Committee chairman Darren Jones called for a fair deal and said: “It represents a slap in the face for pension scheme members that the Government is continuing its ‘take it or leave it’ approach on arrangements around the Government guarantee.

Workers at the North East's pits, such as Wearmouth Colliery pictured here in 1994, could feel the impact of the decision not to make a change to their pension scheme.

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The Government has benefited from billions of pounds of surpluses since 1994 without having to contribute a pound of taxpayers’ money to miners’ pensions.

“The Government says it is willing to listen, but they reject any meaningful negotiation on the guarantee or any review of the terms of the 50:50 split.

“The tone of the Government’s response suggests they do not understand the reality of the historic injustice felt by thousands of retired miners.”

The committee said in its report that given the “vast sums” paid from the scheme to the Government, it was “unconscionable” many were struggling.

At the time it was expected the Government would receive around £4 billion from the arrangement, which increased to £4.4 billion, with it also due to receive at least another £1.9 billion on top of 50% off any future surpluses.

A Government spokesman said pensioners receive payments 33% higher than they would have been thanks to its guarantee and added: “We remain resolutely committed to protecting the pensions of mineworkers.”

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