Government accused of "creaming off" money that should be in the pockets of ex miners by former Labour leader Ed Miliband

The former Labour leader Ed Miliband has accused the Government of “creaming off” billions of pounds of money which should be in the pockets of former miners.

Under a privatisation deal in 1994, 50 per cent of any surplus from the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme goes back to Government in non-ringfenced funding. The last mining colliery in Yorkshire, Kellingley, closed in 2015.
Photo: PA
Under a privatisation deal in 1994, 50 per cent of any surplus from the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme goes back to Government in non-ringfenced funding. The last mining colliery in Yorkshire, Kellingley, closed in 2015. Photo: PA

The Doncaster North MP, who serves as Keir Starmer’s shadow Business Secretary, has demanded that ex-miners’ pensions are given an uplift instead of half the surplus from the pot going back to Government.

Under a privatisation deal in 1994, 50 per cent of any surplus from the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme goes back to Government in non-ringfenced funding.

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But the scheme has performed more strongly than expected, Labour said, meaning that the Government has had some £4.4bn from the scheme, with an extra £1.2bn currently sitting in the pot to be given from the Investment Returns Scheme in 2029.

Mr Miliband said giving that money back to ex-miners through the pension scheme could equate to them each receiving a £14 weekly uplift. And he has accused the Prime Minister of not keeping his election promise to return funds back into the pockets of ex-miners.

Speaking in 2019, Boris Johnson said: “We will make sure that all their cash is fully protected and returned. I have looked into it and we will ensure that’s done.”

But according to Mr Miliband, he has done “absolutely zilch” to change the terms of the 1994 arrangement.

Labour would return the money back to ex-miners should they win the next General Election, Mr Miliband confirmed.

Mr Miliband said: “We know this is a terrible, long-standing injustice.

“Miners have contributed to their pension but the government is creaming off billions of pounds over the years.

“It could make a huge difference to miners and their families, right across Yorkshire.

“Boris Johnson made a clear promise to people in Yorkshire and it’s time for him to honour that promise. He owes it to miners. Miners are passing on and the numbers on the scheme are dwindling. There’s an urgency here.”

He pointed to a recent report from the Business Select Committee, which said the Government “failed to conduct due diligence during the 1994 negotiations, and was negligent by not taking actuarial advice.”

Labour’s calls have been backed by the National Union of Mineworkers.

Chris Kitchen, Secretary of the Union, said: “The theft of miners pensions has been a grave injustice. These are not the Government’s funds. These are miner’s pension contributions which have been taken from them.

“I am pleased that Labour has today committed to writing this historic wrong and giving a real immediate financial uplift to former miners and their families all across the country.”

Some 152,000 members of the scheme draw an average pension of £84 weekly.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was approached for comment.