Hopes raised for pension boost to thousands of former Doncaster miners

A call for the Government to give £1.2bn of pension funds to ex-miners has been welcomed by former Doncaster miners.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 7:05 pm

Under an arrangement set up in the 1990s, the Government gets half of any surplus from the miners' scheme – making it £4.4bn so far.

But now the parliamentary Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has called for the arrangement to be reviewed, with an initial £1.2bn being handed back to the fund.

The pension scheme has thousands of members across Doncaster.

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30 June 2015...Ed Miliband MP chats with Dennis Crew during his visit to Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster on the day it was announced it is to close.Picture Scott Merrylees SM1008/81a

The parliamentary committee said the move would give a £14 increase to the average weekly pension of £84.

Former Hatfield Colliery miner Les Moore, from Stainforth, who has campaigned on the issue as a member of the UK Miners Pension Scheme Association for Justice and Fair Play, was delighted with the move, but said it was still to be approved by the Government. He added Labour failed to deal with the issue while in power, but praised Doncaster MP Ed Miliband for getting the issue raised.

He said a change would affect tens of thousands in Doncaster, adding “It’s about returning what was ours.

“There are people who have done well since leaving mining. But I have friends in Stainforth who have not done as well as others, and for whom an extra £14 would make a big difference.”

In 1994, when the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme was privatised, it was agreed the Government would get 50 per cent of any surplus from the fund, in return for guaranteeing the value of the pensions would not decrease.

Committee chairman Darren Jones MP, said: "Whilst the Government's guarantee to the pension fund has provided vital security to Mineworkers' Pension Scheme members, it's clear that the government has profited to a far greater extent than originally envisaged. That now needs to change."

As well as reviewing the 50 per cent sharing deal, the committee called for the Government to give up its entitlement to the £1.2bn Investment Reserve, and give it to the miners.

A Government spokesman said miners had received higher payouts due to its guaranteed status, adding: "We remain resolutely committed to protecting the pensions of mineworkers, are carefully reviewing the findings of this report, and will consider all recommendations made."

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.