Having raised my deep concerns with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, I am left angered by the government’s wanting response. The UK Government stand by their U-turn on the 2017 manifesto promise to provide free TV licenses to over-75s.
Free TV licenses to the over-75s was introduced by the Labour Government in 1999 to address pensioner poverty, which up until this point had been on the rise. The policy was successful and saw poverty for this age group decrease significantly. This Government reversal will see 3,810 households lose their free TV licence in Delyn alone, at a cost of £573,405 to these households each year. Read more “TV licence for over-75s: Ministerial response”
This week I attended a debate in the House of Commons which sort to redress the balance within the Mineworkers’ Pension scheme. When the scheme was first established it was decided that any yield from the scheme would be split 50/50 between mineworkers and the UK Government.
When British Coal was privatised in 1994, an arrangement was made between the then Government and the trustees of the British Coal pension schemes – the Mineworkers Pension Scheme (MPS) and the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme (BCSS) – on their future arrangements.
It was agreed that:
• The existing schemes would be closed to further contributions
• The Government would take over the role as Guarantor for the Scheme from British Coal.
• 50% of the surplus in the scheme would be used to enhance members’ pensions immediately, with the other 50% being payable to the guarantor.
• The Guarantor agreed to leave its share of pre-privatisation surpluses in the Scheme as the Investment Reserve. This was to be paid to the Guarantor over a 25-year period to 2019.
• For scheme members, the Guarantee meant that they would always receive the benefits they had earned up to privatisation, increased in line with inflation. I.E. they would not see a fall in cash terms in their pension earned up to privatisation.
Since then the UK Government has not made any direct payments into the scheme. Read more “Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme”
In the UK Government’s 2017 General Election manifesto they promised millions of older households that people over 75 would keep free TV licences until the end of this Parliament – that is, until 2022.
But the UK Government outsources responsibility, and the financial costs of this policy, to the BBC. Free TV licences are set to be curtailed or cut completely from 2020 as the UK Government have provided no additional resources to the BBC to continue this policy.
If these free TV licences are scrapped it will mean 5,130 people in Delyn will lose their concession. During my frontbench colleagues opening remarks I pointed out that if we lose free TV licences for over-75s it will not be the UK Government breaking a promise from two years ago but 22 years. They promised that they would support our legislation when we introduced it and they must be held to account for their actions.
My colleague Nick Smith MP (Blaenau Gwent) secured a Westminster Hall debate this week on the British Steel pension scheme and the companies who have been trying to mis-sell terrible schemes to those pension holders.
There was an absolute lack of information provided to the pension scheme holders by the UK Government during its transfer and this resulted in a number of companies providing poor advice to deliberately benefit from the proceeds of transfer.
Currently, 17 companies are under investigation. We cannot let steelworkers, either those still working in the industry or those already in retirement, lose their pensions. The UK Government need to take this seriously and ensure a proper investigation is undertaken by authorities and greater protections are in place for pension holders.