Currently, the Government receives half of any surplus from the miners’ pension scheme, in return for guaranteeing the value of pensions would not decrease. So far, the deal, which was agreed in 1994 when the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme was privatised, has made the Government £4.4billion, and the Government has never had to pay into the scheme.
In April, a parliamentary committee called for the arrangement to be reviewed, with an initial £1.2billion being handed back to the fund.
The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee said the move would increase the average weekly pension by £14, taking it to £84.
The pension scheme affects tens of thousands of families across the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East.
Darren Jones, the Labour MP for Bristol North West who chairs the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said members of the scheme would be “deeply disappointed” by the Government’s “intransigent message”.
He said: “It represents a slap in the face for pension scheme members that the Government is continuing its ‘take it or leave it’ approach.
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“The Government has benefited from billions of pounds of surpluses since 1994 without having to contribute a pound of taxpayers’ money to miners’ pensions.
“Ministers should think again and help ensure these pensioners get a fair deal.”
Inky Thomson, a former mineworker, was among those devastated by the Government’s rejection of the calls to give £1.2billion of pension funds to ex-miners.
Remarking on some comments made in response to the news, during an interview with Gloria De Piero and Liam Halligan on GB News today, Mr Thomson said: “A slap in the face? I think I’d view it as a kick in the privates.”
The ex-miner continued: “We all paid into the pension scheme, and there are no miners that didn’t do back-breaking work.
“People seem to forget that they fed this country with fuel way back in the industrial revolution.
“Most miners, from each generation, their parents and their grandparents were miners.”
Mr Thomson added: “It wasn’t a pleasant environment to work in, and it wasn’t overpaid.
“I shudder to think what the MPs would say to having their widows paid a pension that attracted a three pence per annum increase because it was that low.
“When they’re talking in percentage terms, obviously the higher the figure you’re on, the higher the percentage [increase] is.
“I think it’s a terrible situation, particularly for widows and for elderly miners that have very little left.
“Many of them will be in the extreme or seriously vulnerable [category] and have been indoors for the past 12 months.
“I just think it’s a terrible time for them. It’s a real shock.”
Mr Thomson went on to refer to Boris Johnson’s visit to Mansfield during the General Election campaign in November 2019.
At the time, Mr Johnson told Andrew Topping, former Mansfield Chad reporter: “I want to tell the Mansfield Chad categorically that we will make sure that no Mansfield miner, or any other miner signed up to the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (MPS), is out of pocket.”
Mr Thomson said: “I’m just so disappointed that it hurts. It hurts to think that a person that made a promise in Mansfield some time ago that he would look at it in a further just manner – not the exact words [Mr Johnson used] but a supportive manner.
“I just think that he was speaking like he normally does, and doesn’t mean a word of it.”
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme members are receiving payments 33 percent 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, but do not accept the committee’s recommendations strike a fair balance between scheme members and taxpayers.”