(Image: Simon Walker HM Treasury)
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Retired miners have seen £4.4bn taken out of their pockets in an "unjustified" raid on their pensions by the government, Labour has said.
The Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme was privatised in 1994 as part of a deal which has seen the Treasury receive 50% of the fund's surplus value – something Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband has described as an "historic wrong".
The scheme has around 152,000 members and their average pension is just £84 a week, with over half getting less than the average pension.
When the fund was privatised, it was expected the Government would receive around £4bn in today’s money, but that payout has climbed to £4.4bn, according to a report by MPs.
The Government is also due to receive at least another £1.9bn on top of 50% off any future surpluses, in what the cross-party Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee have called an "historic injustice".
Mr Miliband has now urged Boris Johnson to rewrite the 1994 deal and immediately return £1.2bn to the pension's reserve fund.
According to estimates by the National Union of Miners, returning the cash would mean a £14-per-week uplift for those on the average pension of £84 per week, or £728 a year.
During the 2019 general election campaign, the Prime Minister had promised ex-miners he would take action.
Terminally ill ex-miner fears he'll die before Rishi Sunak hands back pension cash
He told reporters: “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.”
Mr Miliband said: “It’s wrong and scandalous that the Conservative government set up an arrangement which was a totally unjustified raid on miners’ pensions. It is high time that the government acted to right this historic wrong.
"Labour would do the right thing and ensure miners get the pensions to which they are entitled, including returning £1.2bn which would make a difference to retired miners and their families.
"Labour is fighting for justice for retired miners and their families. Returning this money to those who rightly deserve it is the right and just thing to do. We demand the government acts."
The committee found that the Government failed to conduct due diligence during the 1994 negotiations, and was negligent by not taking proper advice.
There was no analysis or evaluation to inform or support the 50:50 split, MPs said.
A government spokesman insisted miners' pensions were higher than they would have been, adding that ministers were still looking at the report by MPs.
He added: "On most occasions, the scheme has been in surplus, and scheme members have received bonuses in addition to their guaranteed pension.
“We remain resolutely committed to protecting the pensions of mineworkers, are carefully reviewing the findings of the recent select committee’s report, and will consider all recommendations made.”