Barnsley MP welcomes release of report into mineworkers pension inquiry

Credit: PA

The Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock has welcomed the release of a report from the parliamentary inquiry into the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme.

The report has recommended amending the 50/50 surplus sharing arrangements in favour of the miners and immediately giving the £1.2 billion currently held in the Investment Reserve to former miners.

The move would give a £14 increase to the average weekly pension of £84, according to MPs.

The scheme was privatised in 1994, however, the government has still received over £4 billion from it so far, despite having put no money into the scheme.

The government has said previously that the arrangement allowed them to guarantee the scheme.

The report states that in creating these arrangements the government ‘failed to conduct due diligence … and was negligent by not taking actuarial advice.’

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee said, given the "vast sums" paid from the scheme to the Government, it was "unconscionable" that many former miners were struggling to make ends meet.

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Ms Peacock has led the campaign for justice for ex-miners and said that the changes were long overdue.

She said: "I welcome the Committee’s unanimously agreed recommendations, which would provide a real and immediate financial uplift for former mineworkers – and would begin to tackle what has been years of injustice.

"These changes are long overdue and ones that we have campaigned for over a number of years."

Committee chairman Darren Jones said: "Whilst the Government's guarantee to the pension fund has provided vital security to Mineworkers' Pension Scheme members, it's clear that the Government has profited to a far greater extent than originally envisaged. That now needs to change."

A Government spokesman said: "Mineworkers' Pension Scheme members are receiving payments 33% higher than they would have been thanks to the Government's guarantee.

"On most occasions, the scheme has been in surplus and scheme members have received bonuses in addition to their guaranteed pension.

"We remain resolutely committed to protecting the pensions of mineworkers, are carefully reviewing the findings of this report, and will consider all recommendations made."

Chris Kitchen, general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, said: "We urge the Government to accept the recommendations and allow the trustees to redress the unfair imbalance.

"Mineworkers who paid money into the scheme should be the ones that benefit, not governments that have never put a penny in."