Fifty MPs, including local Labour MPs Ed Miliband and Rosie Winterton, have signed a letter calling on the Government to implement the recommendations of a Parliamentary inquiry into the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme. The letter coordinated by Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East, demands immediate action from the Government.
This is part of a long-running campaign to secure a fairer deal for members of the scheme. The current average pension for former miners is £84 per week. Some members receive considerably less than this. The Government has not contributed to the scheme since 1987 but has received £4.4 billion since 1994 as a result of a surplus sharing agreement.
The cross-party inquiry highlighted two key points: that the £1.2 billion reserve fund should be given back to pensioners immediately and that the surplus sharing agreement should be changed to give more to pensioners.
Ed Miliband and Rosie Winterton said:
“For those who have been campaigning on miners’ pensions, this inquiry report is very welcome indeed. It shows why the original decision made by the Conservative government was not fair or just.
“We are determined to put pressure on Government to finally deliver justice for mineworkers. It’s just plain wrong that miners and their families are seeing their pensions raided in this way.
“We’ve been working with campaigning organisations like the NUM and the UK Miners Pension Scheme Association for Justice and Fair Play for years demanding a better deal for miners.
“We’ve met with Ministers, spoken in Parliament and the outcome of the inquiry is really encouraging. We will continue to promote this cause at every opportunity.
“Doncaster miners have been unfairly treated for too long. They deserve justice and the government should make sure they get it.”
The inquiry report, published in April 2021, states that, “the Government failed to conduct due diligence during the 1994 negotiations, and was negligent by not taking actuarial advice. There was no empirical analysis or evaluation to inform or support the 50:50 split, and it therefore remains arbitrary”.
It concludes that, “the Government’s entitlement to 50% of surpluses is not proportionate to the degree of financial risk it actually faces. Given that the Scheme has continued to produce strong returns despite the 2008 Financial Crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, there is little reason to believe the Government will be required to pay into the Scheme before it is wound-up.”