Ministers slammed for taking £4.4bn of miners’ pension fund
MINISTERS will take £617million from the miners’ pension fund this year to top up Treasury coffers – bringing the total removed to more than £4.4billion in 24 years.
The scandal has left retired pit workers receiving disgracefully low payouts averaging £84 a week, with at least 6,000 having had pensions cut.
Successive governments have mined the rich seam of funds since 1994. The Tories have pocketed two payments of £51million in the last two years alone and never put a penny back.
Labour MPs in former pit constituencies, led by Gloria De Piero, say it is time the Tories stopped taking the money and instead gave future windfalls to ex-miners and their families.
Ms De Piero, for Ashfield, Notts, said: “After years of gruelling work to keep Britain’s lights on, mineworkers are being repaid by governments raiding their pensions for billions of pounds.”
When British Coal was privatised in 1994 the Government agreed to act as guarantor for its pension payouts, with future surpluses split 50/50 between the Treasury and scheme members.
The Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme has about 200,000 members who, while working, contributed 5.25 per cent of their pay to their retirement.
But the fund is doing far better than expected, leading to the Treasury’s windfall. Ms De Piero and the National Union of Mineworkers want extra money shared out more fairly.
The MP said: “It really is time the deal was renegotiated. We need alternatives so pensioners get a fairer share of their pension investment profits.”
Labour’s Dennis Skinner, the MP for Bolsover, has told ministers: “Stop stealing the miners’ pensions.”
The Treasury’s £617.2million take emerged in figures released last week by Energy Minister Claire Perry – who also revealed it will snaffle another £427million over the next three years.
She said: “I’ve asked officials to work with trustees on options for revising the scheme to all parties’ benefit.” A Whitehall spokesman said: “The Government guarantee ensures pensions, including inflation rises, are always paid – so payments including bonuses will not fall in cash
FURY Keith Stanley & De Piero