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.
Parliament returned, yesterday, following conference season. I was eager to press the pensions minister on WASPI women as nothing was mentioned by the Government during their conference on how they will help all the women born in the 1950’s who are seeing their pensions drastically changed.
I reminded the minister that I, and a group of cross-party MPs, have a Bill which is due to be read in April 2018 that seeks to put right the wrongs of this Government. I wanted assurances that the Government will adopt our Bill. However, the minister refused saying that the Government will keep pressing on with this calamitous measure which is placing so many constituents in Delyn in financial and mental pressure. I will continue to campaign with the WASPI women for a fair deal, irrespective of the ministers poor response.