A former Fife miner has accused the UK Government of daylight robbery after it “plundered” the mineworkers’ pension pot.
Tom Adams is furious that chancellor Rishi Sunak refused to hand over £1.2 billion in surplus from the fund to boost miners’ pensions.
The move would have increased the average £84-a -week pension by £14.
Instead, the Government rejected a recommendation from a committee of MPs and has hung on to the money.
Mr Adams, a miner for 23 years, is one of hundreds of Fifers losing out following the decision.
He branded it “totally unfair” and added: “It would have been a huge bonus for us.”
The former Labour councillor, who lives in West Wemyss, is a strong advocate for miners’ rights.
He previously staged a one-man protest amid calls for an investigation into the policing of the 1980s strike.
He said the money going into Government coffers would have been better spent in the local economy.
“That £14 a week is an extra £56 every month,” he said.
“That’s just an average. Many ex-miners, including myself, have a pension of more than £84 a week so we would have got more.
“A lot of us live in poorer communities like Methil, Valleyfield and Rosyth and that money could have benefited these economies at a time when it’s really needed.
“Instead, the Government has decided to plunder our pension pot. It’s daylight robbery”
A ‘slap in the face’
The Government’s decision has previously been described as “a slap in the face” to members of the mineworkers’ pension scheme.
MPs on the business, energy and the industrial strategy committee had urged ministers to tackle what they called a historic injustice.
The Government has received 50% of surpluses in the value of the scheme since it was privatised in 1994.
In return, it provides a guarantee that the value of the pensions will not decrease.
It’s totally unfair and we’re struggling to know what to do next.”
Retired miner Tom Adams.
However, the scheme is making over £1bn more than expected.
Mr Adams, who spent most of his mining days at Frances Colliery in Dysart, said: “What’s happening is people are dying so the pension scheme is paying out less and less.
“It’s still sitting there at £8bn and it’s just making money for the Government.
“It’s totally unfair and we’re struggling to know what to do next.”
Shadow business secretary Ed Milliband said the Government’s decision was appalling.
“Rather than act to right a historic wrong, they have doubled down on an unjust arrangement that will see more than a billion pounds extra taken from retired miners’ pensions,” he said.
“Boris Johnson personally promised during the election campaign to tackle this injustice and has broken that promise.”
A Government spokesman has defended the move, however.
“Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme members are receiving payments 33% higher than they would have been thanks to the Government’s guarantee.
“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.”
Despite this, the National Union of Mineworkers insists the distribution of surplus funds should be reviewed.
General secretary Chris Kitchen said: “The Government talks about levelling up but is content with taking funds from retired miners without ever having contributed a penny.”