Ashfield mineworkers left out of pocket by 'take it or leave it' pensions deal
Mineworkers from across Ashfield were given a 'take it or leave it' pensions deal by the Government, an inquiry heard.
The parliamentary inquest heard that the Government has taken around £4.4bn out of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme without putting in a single penny, leaving many seriously out of pocket.
At a meeting of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, witnesses told MPs that when the pension fund was set up in 1994, following the privatisation of the mining industry in the UK, the Government forced miners into a 50/50 split in surplus sharing arrangements.
Campaigners say that thousands of miners from around Nottinghamshire have been left massively out of pocket after the ‘take it or leave it’ deal - with the Government due to take a further £1.9bn if the matter is not addressed, the inquiry heard.
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 10 per cent of former miners are paid as little as £18 per week, many having paid into the pension pot for years.
Chris Kitchen from the NUM said that the situation was unique in its terms, with other pension pots for other previously nationalised industries being more beneficial to members.
He said: “This is a good time for the Government to accept that they’ve had enough money out of it.
“This has been a better deal for Government than for members, which is the wrong way round.”
For years, campaigners have called for a fairer deal for former mineworkers in Nottinghamshire, as well as around the UK, in terms of pension.
Mick Newton, trustee of the Miners’ Pension Scheme representing Nottinghamshire, said that if former mine workers were given their fare share of the money, it would bring prosperity back into many struggling communities.
Speaking after the inquiry, he said: "I would like to thank all concerned who have pushed for the inquiry into mineworkers’ pensions. This is a giant leap forward. The evidence submitted leaves us in no doubt how mineworkers and widows have been dramatically shortchanged over the last 30 years.
“We look forward to the outcome of this inquiry in the hope that our pensioners will see some major improvements to their pensions.”
The inquiry will reconvene next month when ministers are expected to give evidence.
Ashfield MP Lee Anderson also viewed the meeting from Mr Bradley’s office but didn’t ask any questions.