It has been a bit of a mad week in national politics, and I’ve been working on behalf of my Mansfield constituents to get the kind of Brexit deal we were promised.
But I want to focus on some local things for my column this week.
There has been genuine progress in a number of areas I’ve been working on specifically relating to mining and former coal miners, and I wanted to update everyone.
One area I’ve been looking at, working with my colleague Mark Spencer the MP for Sherwood, is lung health.
Obviously, coal miners are more likely to develop lung problems and alongside the UDM we’ve campaigned to improve the diagnosis and care that’s available.
Having met key stake-holders and the minister in London, and raised queries locally, it’s great to be able to say that local providers are going to review and improve the pathways for care here in Nottinghamshire, and things are moving forward.
Second, on the Mineworkers Pension Scheme (MPS).
Late last year I met trustees of the scheme, and I’ve now met the relevant ministers several times too to discuss the challenges of the MPS deal agreed more than 20 years ago, which means the Government keeps half of the profits from investments made by the scheme in return for guaranteeing the basic rate of the pension.
Because the investments have been so successful the Government has done quite well out of it, and that also means that recipients of the pension scheme are now getting a bonus too – but this is not guaranteed.
I’m hopeful after discussions that the Government might agree to fully guarantee the whole pension, including the bonuses, which would mean that miners would no longer have to worry about poor investments impacting their pensions.
That would be a great step forward for recipients of miner’s pensions, and I continue to push for it to happen.
I’ve been working with colleagues and ministers to support former coal miners, and it’s great to see things moving forward on these important issues.