The Government have today (Monday 5th July) responded to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee report on the Mineworkers Pension Scheme.
Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme – Committee Report
Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme – Government Response
In short, the Government have refused to implement any of the Committee’s recommendations, blocking the transfer of £1.2 billion of reserve funds to immediately uplift pensions and refusing to amend the 50:50 surplus share.
The Government’s refusal to act on the recommendations is nothing short of a complete and total betrayal of mineworkers; exposing the Prime Minister’s promise to give Mansfield miners their ‘fair share’ from the scheme is a lie.
In his response, the Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth, and Climate Change tried to hold Trustees to ransom, willing to forgo the Government’s surplus share if they agreed to sacrifice the guarantee that protects benefits.
For a Minister of State to play games with the pensions and retirement of mineworkers and their widows shows disdain and contempt for the men that worked underground, sacrificing their health and wellbeing, to sustain the UK economy for over a century.
The Government have been paid time and time again for the pension guarantee, taking over £4 billion out of the scheme.
The Business Select Committee’s recommendations balanced the interests of beneficiaries and the taxpayer, with the Government being entitled to a 50% share of surpluses in circumstances where the scheme had fallen into deficit and required the use of public money to pay pensions.
This sensible safeguard would then allow former mineworkers and their widows to receive 100% of the scheme’s surpluses, while the scheme remained profitable.
The Government have never been called upon to support the scheme, which has weathered the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic. In the extreme case where the Government were called upon to contribute to the scheme, the financial contribution would be nowhere near the £6.3 billion total the Government are on course to receive from the scheme.
The Government have made a choice, to exploit and squeeze the retirement of miners living on average pensions of just £84 a week.
There was an opportunity to support coalfield communities. While the figures are inconsequential to the Government, returning this money could have significantly improved the standard of living and retirement of miners and their widows.
The campaign for pension justice will not end.
We must remain resolute.
The Government must change position, and if not, we must change the Government.