UK Government rejects calls to handback miner’s pension surplus - Midlothian politicians call for a rethink
Midlothian representatives Owen Thompson MP and Christine Grahame MSP have urged a rethink from the UK Government after it rejected calls to hand back some of the surplus it has received from the Mineworkers Pension Scheme to assist ex-miners, their widows and families.
It was agreed when the scheme was set up in 1994 (when the coal industry was privatised) that any surplus would be shared 50/50 with the scheme's members and the UK government. So far the UK Government has made £4.4 billion and is due to receive a further £1.9 billion, without contributing to the pot.
A recent report from the UK Parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee recommended a review of this arrangement and the immediate return of £1.2bheld in the Investment Reserve, which would provide a £14 increase to the average weekly pension of £84.This has been rejected by the UK Government.
Both Christine Grahame and Owen Thompson have long campaigned for a review and an uplift to the funds for ex-miners, a position which is also backed by the Scottish Government.
More than 1500 families in Midlothian are recipients of the scheme.
Owen Thompson (SNP) said: "I am deeply disappointed by this response from the UK Government. It is unfair that the Mineworkers Pension Scheme has become a cash cow for government, while many ex-miners and their families struggle to make ends meet.
"Returning some of the surplus would provide a significant uplift for hundreds of families in Midlothian as well as former coalmining communities right across the UK. This would demonstrate the UK Government pays more than lip service to tackling economic inequalities and the so-called 'levelling up' agenda.”
Midlothian South MSP Christine Grahame (SNP) said: “With so many former miners living in my constituency and with my late maternal grandfather himself a Welsh miner dying at an early age from injuries sustained when a pit prop fell on him, I know how tough it was for miners and their families. I also witnessed the dreadful events when Margaret Thatcher had mounted police charge into miners defending their jobs and their communities.
“Thankfully the Scottish Government has expressed its support for this report, as do most right thinking people, and I call on the UK government to think again."