Victory for former mineworkers in controversial pension pot row
Former mineworkers from around Eastwood and Kimberley are hailing victory after an inquiry ruled that the Government had unfairly plundered their pension scheme for years – leaving many on the breadline.
Campaigners say thousands of miners from around Nottinghamshire have been left massively out of pocket from the ‘take it or leave it’ deal – with the Government having already pocketed £4.4billion.
They were due to take a further £1.9bn if the matter had not been addressed, but the report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee is calling on the Government to end the ‘historic outrage’ by handing over an initial £1.2bn to former mineworkers.
In real terms, many miners receive an average of £65 per week in pension, plus a £19 per week bonus, although 25 per cent are paid £30 per week – and ten per cent of former mineworkers are paid as little as £18 per week, many having paid into the pension pot for years.
The deal was struck in 1994 when the Government effectively demanded a 50/50 split in surplus sharing arrangements – investment profit made by the trustees of the scheme – without ever contributing a penny.
However, the split was to ensure the Government would guarantee the scheme so it never decreased in value, but campaigners say they objected to the deal at the time and were left with no choice other than to accept it.
The report comes after an ongoing investigation by the committee into the arrangements of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme, which saw trustees giving evidence in March.
The committee has now formally ruled that the Government should review the surplus sharing arrangements in the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme to ensure they are fair and deliver a better outcome for pensioners.
For the average pensioner receiving £84 per week, this would mean an additional £14 per week.
Commenting on the report’s findings, campaigner Mick Newton, who represents former mineworkers in Nottinghamshire, said: “This is a massive step forwards and I’m delighted that the report reflects the feelings of former mineworkers and their widows.
“It’s a very strong report and it’s very strongly worded, and let’s hope that the Government will pick it up and implement the proposals. The case for former mineworkers is overwhelming.
“Every week, between 150 and 200 former miners die - a lot of them from industrial illnesses and respiratory diseases, and we want to see as many former mineworkers as possible see improvements to their pensions while they are still alive.
“In 1994, when the Government forced us into accepting their conditions, there were 400,000 former mineworkers alive in this country. There are now 150,000 - that’s 250,000 who have not seen this justice, and we’ve lost those people.
“The report offers a real solution to members’ pensions, and to address the injustices that have taken place over the past 27 years.
“Not only will this boost the bank balances of former mineworkers and their widows, but it will also help to regenerate our local communities, because most of these people will spend their extra money in local shops.”