THE PITS

Min­is­ters slammed for tak­ing £4.4bn of min­ers’ pen­sion fund

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - News - EX­CLU­SIVE BY NIGEL NEL­SON Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor nigel.nel­[email protected] sun­daymir­ror. co.uk

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

terms.”

FURY Keith Stan­ley & De Piero

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