Council asking Chancellor Rishi Sunak to change mineworkers’ pension scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter

Nottinghamshire County Council is to petition chancellor Rishi Sunak for a new pension deal for the county’s former miners.

It comes after the Government rejected calls by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee to review the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme.

The agreement, which was privatised in 1994, promised miners that their pensions would be secured for the future.

This would have been achieved by the Government taking out an agreed £2 billion to protect it, with a 50:50 surplus arrangement acting to guarantee pensions would not decrease.

However, campaigners have long called for changes to the agreement after it emerged more than £4.5 billion has been taken out by successive governments.

Campaigners believed money should be handed back to former miners and their families, while also saying the arrangement should be altered to 70:30 in their favour.

These were recommendations supported by the BEIS committee following a review of the scheme in April.

Its report found many miners were struggling to make ends meet, and the committee recommended the Government redistribute £1.2 billion in reserve funds as an “immediate cash boost” to mineworkers.

However, the Government rejected the idea earlier this month.

This led to a backlash among local politicians and campaigners, some describing the decision as a “slap in the face”.

Conservative-led Nottinghamshire County Council has now backed calls for a “fairer deal”, agreeing on Thursday (July 22) to write a letter to the Government and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

A motion put forward by the Ashfield Independents and given cross-party support will call for the recommendations to be reconsidered.

Councillor Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), who put forward the motion, described the scheme as a “historical injustice”.

He added: “This motion has the opportunity to give some of our communities their dignity back.

“They were proud communities, proud people, and they absolutely deserve this.”

Councillor Maureen Dobson (Ind), represents Collingham and spoke in favour of the move.

“There shouldn’t even be a debate about this,” she said.

“It’s about helping the miners, how many of us have even thought about being a miner?

“We should get on and give these people and their families what they deserve.”

Councillor Chris Barnfather (Con), who represents Newstead, also backed the move.

He said: “This is about rectifying an injustice, it may be an unintentional injustice but it does exist.

“[Mining] was a community atmosphere that has unfortunately left us.

“What we have to do is not forget those people who worked hard in our coalfields and kept this country alive in some very difficult times.”

The motion, which was given unanimous support, will call for a “fairer arrangement” for former miners.

A letter will also be sent to all Nottinghamshire MPs calling for their support.

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