Former mineworkers call for a halt to Government take from its pension fund

Ex miners say the Government must halt taking hundreds of millions from their pension fund.

UK Miners’ Pension Scheme, For Justice & Fair Play campaigner Mick Newton has called on the Government to immediately suspend its take from the mineworkers pension fund.

He was speaking as MPs from the area signed a letter to the chancellor calling for a fairer deal for former mineworkers and their families.

He said: “We welcome this latest intervention by MPs from all the main political parties and the context of the letter to the Chancellor is very encouraging.

“However if we look at the Mineworkers Pension Scheme accounts for the last financial year (2018), we read with great remorse the sad loss of yet another 6,500 of our Pensioners.

“We are once again very disturbed to witness that yet another £526 Million has been taken by the Government in 2018.

“We are being financially penalised and punished all the way to the grave.

“In my view what has and is happening to former mineworkers and our widows is nothing short of daylight robbery on a grand scale, the like of which dwarfs all other pension injustices put together.

“We look forward to more constructive talks with ministers and coalfield MPs to obtain a successful outome, although we are way past that stage for tens of thousands of our pensioners who are sadly no longer with us.

“Therefore it’s in the best interests of our pensioners for the Government to suspend their take from our pension fund with immediate effect.”

Mansfield and Ashfield MPs are backing calls for a fairer deal for former mineworkers and their families.

Ben Bradley, Conservative MP for Mansfield, and Gloria De Piero, Labour MP for Ashfield, have signed a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond which calls for a formal review of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme.

The current arrangement sees the Government acting as guarantor for mineworker pension payouts, with surpluses split evenly between the Treasury and scheme members.

Miners, backed by your Chad, have been campaigning for the terms to be changed.

And the letter signed by 39 MPs, also puts forward the case that the 50 per cent share is not justified, given the strong returns generated by the scheme and the absence of any payments into it by the Government.

Mr Bradley said: “Since being elected, I’ve spoken out in Parliament and held meetings with both ministers and trustees in support of changes to the terms of the scheme.

“We need to recognise the Government has done far better out of it than they could have imagined.

“It’s only right that we tip the scales back in favour of Mansfield’s mineworkers.

“Earlier this year I met members of the UK Miners’ Pension Scheme, For Justice & Fair Play at my Mansfield office to talk about the scheme.

“ A few weeks ago in Parliament I went to a meeting with members of UKMPSA to discuss the issue in more detail with the minister for business, energy and industrial strategy.

“This is an issue I continue to work closely on with the Government. I will continue to push for changes.”

Ms De Piero said: “For years I have been highlighting the injustice of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme.

“This recent cross party letter I’ve signed calls on the government to look again at the surplus sharing arrangement which was agreed when the government became the guarantor of the pension scheme in 1994.

“Since then, the Treasury has taken 50 per cent of the profits made by the MPS pension investments, and this alone has totalled more than £3 billion, substantially more than was ever envisaged.

“It has never had to pay into the scheme.

“In our letter, we explain that while we fully realise the important role that the government has played as guarantor, there is a strong case for looking again at the deal that the pensioners have.

“We are asking the Chancellor to enter negotiations about rebalancing the surplus sharing arrangement so that the pensioners benefit to a greater extent, and to protect bonuses that pensioners receive.”