Ex-Miners Face Financial Hardship As Government’s Actions Leave Former Workers Struggling

In a shameful legacy of broken promises and financial hardship, former miners suffer as the government raids pension funds, leaving them in dire poverty. Here’s the full story.

Forty Year Wait

Forty years after the historic miners’ strikes, former miners are being left almost destitute, with hundreds living close to abject poverty, struggling to make ends meet. 

Despite promises from the government, campaigners assert that billions of pounds have been syphoned from the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme, leaving ex-miners in dire financial straits, with some unable to afford even basic necessities. 

50% of Surplus

In 2019, then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to end an agreement allowing the government to take an astonishing 50% of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme surplus funds. 

Despite this promise, the National Mineworkers Pension Campaign accuses Johnson of deceiving the miners, asserting that the government has not taken any meaningful steps to follow up on their pledge. 

Disproportionate Benefits

A 2021 report by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy revealed the disproportionate benefits the government reaps from the pension scheme arrangement. 

The report even recommended terminating the deal, stating that “allowing the arrangement to continue would appear antithetical to the government’s stated aim of redressing socioeconomic inequality and ‘levelling up’ left-behind communities.”

Funds Drained

Campaigners estimate that the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme has been drained of £4.2 billion to £10 billion. These funds could have significantly improved the lives of former miners and their families. 

A considerable portion of scheme members receive meagre pensions, with some struggling to survive on as little as £10 a week. The plight of the ex-miners is not merely financial but also deeply personal, with many former miners facing the indignity of not being able to afford proper burials for themselves. 

Tragic Reality

Charles Chiverton, a spokesperson for the campaign, lamented the tragic reality of members dying without a penny to their names, a stark contrast to their decades of labor in the coal mines.

Chiverton stated: “It’s just disgraceful that we’ve got members that have died in abject poverty. They’ve not only had the coal mines shut down and the community devastated, which leaves so many black holes, they can’t even enjoy a trip out to the seaside like they would have done.”

Several Members of Parliament, across party lines, have voiced support for the campaign to rectify the pensions schemes’ stark injustices. 

Lack of Progress

Ashfield MP Lee Anderson, among others, has advocated for a fairer deal for the ex-miners, which has seen a rare moment of political unity in the miners’ cause. However, still, nothing has been done. 

Campaigners have decried the lack of transparency in the administration of the Mineworkers Pension Scheme, as the trustees operate behind closed doors. Despite their requests for greater transparency, even simple requests such as a yearly general meeting have been rejected outright.

“We Control Nothing”

Campaigners stated: “The government control our scheme. We control nothing. So we’re, in effect, voiceless.” The legacy of the miners’ strike echoes 40 years after the miners first downed tools in an attempt to save their jobs. 

The scars and traumas of the strike, which were brutally put down by the government of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, saw miners imprisoned and even killed. 

Chiverton was damning in his condemnation of the government, stating, “Not only have they taken our jobs and communities away from us, they’ve taken our retirement, our dignity. They’ve taken everything. And what for? To punish us for having the audacity to stand up and fight for our coal mines and our communities? Was that such a bad thing to do?”

Communities Devastated

The loss of such integral industries devastated whole communities, leading to profound societal changes in the areas where mines shut down following the strikes. 

Chiverton was blunt in his assessment of the changes that followed the strikes: “You wouldn’t believe what we’ve turned into, these once proud mining communities.”

He added: “It breaks me. It does, honestly. It breaks me.”

Government Defense

In response to the campaigner’s allegations, a Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson defended the government’s stance, stating, “We remain committed to protecting mineworkers’ pensions while striking a fair balance between scheme members and taxpayers.

They continued: “Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme members are receiving payments 33% higher than they would have been thanks to our guarantee. On most occasions, the scheme has been in surplus, and scheme members have received bonuses in addition to their guaranteed pension.”

Despite this, the ongoing plight of the former miners is a damning indictment of a government that promises much and fails to follow through, exposing the much-touted idea of “levelling up” communities that have been left behind as little more than a PR buzzword. 

The post Ex-Miners Face Financial Hardship As Government’s Actions Leave Former Workers Struggling first appeared on Pulse365 Limited.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Parilov.

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