MPs call on government to give ex-miners 'early Christmas pensions present'

Gloria De Piero MP, Stephanie Peacock MP, Allen Young (Elected MPS Trustee) and Nick Smith MP at the latest meeting they held on the MPS.
Gloria De Piero MP, Stephanie Peacock MP, Allen Young (Elected MPS Trustee) and Nick Smith MP at the latest meeting they held on the MPS.

A group of MPs representing former coalfield areas, including Ashfield's Gloria De Piero, has called on the government to give ex-miners an "early Christmas present" by sharing out £2 billion from the pension reserves.

The move would essentially cost the Treasury nothing but would result in a significant boost of 10 per cent - or more - for members of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (MPS).

Ms De Piero was joined by Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent, and Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock, who have been in contact with the trusees of the MPS and the NUM for months about ensuring mineworkers and their widows take home a fairer share of the dormant funds.

The MPs believe that redistributing money lying in the MPS’s investment reserve and guarantor fund, government assets which are not available to pensioners, would give them a "much-needed windfall".

They have called on the government to approve the proposal, without delay.

Ms De Piero said: "Since becoming the guarantor of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme in 1994, the government has received more than £3 billion from its share of the scheme’s surpluses alone.

"That is a figure which is much, much higher than could ever have been envisaged when the deal was struck.

"The £1.1 billion currently lying in the investment reserve and £1bn in the guarantor’s fund are not available to pay member pensions and will be paid back to the Government over time.

“With the average MPS pensioner taking home just £84 a week, and the number of pensioners falling significantly each year, we think it is now the right thing to do.

"The government should share out this money among those men who undertook back-breaking work in our coalmines to keep our lights on, and give them a boost before Christmas."

This proposal is the latest that the MPs have supported in order to give ex-miners and their widows a fairer slice of their pension fund.

They have called for the 50/50 surplus sharing arrangement to be renegotiated in favour of pensioners, and for bonuses that pensioners receive on their pensions to be protected.

If just half of the £2 billion in the reserves was shared out, that would result in a 10 per cent increase for pensioners, while this would increase to 20 per cent if the government agreed to redistribute the whole sum.

The MPs have written to the chancellor with the proposal and are now awaiting a reply.