Miners' pension campaigners march at Westminster

Ex miners march on Parliament in a row over pensions
Campaigners say the government should stop taking a surplus from dividends generated by the miners' pension pot [BBC]

Retired miners have travelled to Parliament to lobby MPs in a row over their pensions.

Hundreds of campaigners marched round Westminster on Wednesday as they called on the government to stop taking a surplus from the pension pot miners paid into during their working lives.

One of the ex-miners, Ian Hoggan from Wakefield, dressed as the legendary highwayman Dick Turpin to highlight the campaign.

The government has previously said current arrangements struck a "fair balance" between the interests of retired miners and taxpayers.

Under a deal struck in 1994, when British Coal was privatised, the government takes 50% of profits generated by the pension in return for underwriting it.

But campaigners say this is depriving mining families of much-needed cash, with many ex-miners having had to retire early because of ill health or injury.

Ian Hoggan
Dressed as Dick Turpin, Ian Hoggan said miners were not getting their "fair share" [BBC]

Mr Hoggan, who worked at Lofthouse Colliery in Wakefield between 1973 and 2004, told the BBC: "It's money for them, it's money for us.

"They (the government) are taking billions and we're not getting our fair share that we paid in. They haven't contributed a single penny.

"There are elder mineworkers on as little as £79 or £80 a week, who are struggling to pay their bills and struggling to put food on the table because of the money they've stolen."

"For a lot of the guys, it's our last hurrah", Ian Burkhill, from Rotherham, told BBC Radio Sheffield, speaking before the trip to Westminster.

"Obviously, mining had a big effect on all of us health-wise - some of the guys simply can't get there because of their disabilities."

He said those who travelled to London represented "all of the miners that are still left alive"; they wanted to tell the government - "you've taken enough money from us".

In April 2021, a cross-party committee of MPs said the government should stop taking money from the scheme and pay back some of what it had already received.

Labour has promised to review the arrangements if it wins power at the next election, with shadow minister Ed Miliband telling the BBC in March there had been "deep unfairness and injustice" in the Conservatives' approach to the issue.

A government spokesperson said it was "protecting the pensions of mineworkers while striking a fair balance between scheme members and taxpayers".

"Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme members are receiving payments 33% higher than they would have been as a result of the government’s guarantee," the spokesperson added.

“On most occasions, the scheme has been in surplus, and scheme members have received bonuses in addition to their guaranteed pension.”

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