Last year, I co-signed a letter alongside 45 other MPs representing coalfield communities calling for the Government to give members of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme a fair deal. However, Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently chose to ignore our concerns by announcing plans to take a further £1.2 billion from the schemes special reserve fund. This shows the disregard the Conservative Government has for the hard-working people in our community.

The Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme has 152,000 members, a number of whom live in South Shields. Currently, the average pension for former miners in the Scheme is £84 a week. The Government have already received over £4 billion from the scheme due to a surplus sharing arrangement set up in 1994, which gives 50% of any surplus to the Government. I believe the surplus money could provide a direct and almost immediate financial uplift to many retired miners’ pensions, providing greater financial security for them and their families.

However, rather than acting to right this historic wrong, the Government have continued with unjust arrangement that will see more than a billion pounds extra taken from retired miners’ pensions. It’s morally wrong that miners and their families are seeing their pensions raided in this way.

What’s more shocking is that those who worked through their lives in the dark and sacrificed their health to keep the country going should be treated in this way.  The Government consistently uses “levelling up” rhetoric but is happy to take funds from retired miners in our community without ever having contributed money to it.  This injustice must stop now and make sure that there will be justice for miners in the future.

For our coal mining history, pension members and their families, I will continue to lobby the Government and campaign for a fair deal.