Former miners are being supplied with free bags of coal as part of a £50,000 initiative.
Hargreaves Services plc is making the gesture in a bid to counter the sudden loss of concessionary fuel benefits suffered by retired miners and their families following the collapse of UK Coal earlier in 2013.
Hargreaves, the market leader in the supply of solid fuel for home heating (and a major creditor in the administration of UK Coal) recognised the difficulties that the retired miners would face with winter fast approaching and so, in consultation with the mining Trades Unions, set about doing something to help.
The result? In recent weeks, hundreds of families across Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire have been receiving the first of their two 50kg bags of free coal from Hargreaves, delivered to the door by a group of Hargreaves’ most trusted coal merchant customers.
Hargreaves Commercial Director (Wholesale) John Birkett said: “As a company that employs many miners and ex-miners, we felt the need to offer some practical help if we could. Our Chief Executive Gordon Banham met national mining union leaders shortly after the collapse of UK Coal, and the Unions immediately welcomed his offer.
“We are fortunate in having a network of outstanding coal merchants across the country with whom we do business: the moment the merchants heard of our plans they were keen to play a part in getting the fuel delivered, and it is they who have been doing the legwork – and bringing, we hope, a smile to the faces of many retired miners as the first deliveries of free coal are completed.
“Whilst our actions in coming to the aid of retired miners right now have been well timed with the onset of winter, we recognise that this is only a short-term solution.
“The Government also understands the problems faced by ex-miners and we were pleased to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer announce, only a few days ago, that in future the Government will ensure retirees continue to receive help with their fuel supplies.
“We are pleased that Hargreaves has been able to ‘fill in the gap’ between the demise of UK Coal and the Government now taking action.
“We talk these days of fuel poverty, and the decisions many pensioners are forced to make – ‘to heat or eat’. We hope that, for a while at least, Hargreaves has helped by taking care of the ‘heat’ part of their decision”.