This Monday, 4th February, marks the 25th anniversary of the closure of Goldthorpe Main – the last pit in Barnsley. Although it would take a further 8 months to run down the supplies, February 1994 marked the end of an era.
Barnsley is a town built on coal. The pits are an inextricable part of our history – it is the coalminer and the glassblower stood together on our town’s coat of arms – and the winding wheels that remain in place, are a poignant reminder of our industrial heritage. Also testament to that heritage are the generations of men who spent their entire working lives underground, many of them paying the price of serious illness, ruined lungs and even their lives. It was the hard graft of Barnsley miners that powered our communities and industries – but in the quarter of a century since the last pit closed, miners and their families have received a raw deal from successive governments.Read more
Barnsley is a town that was built on coal, and thousands of Barnsley men spent their entire working lives connected with the mining industry. Ever since I was first elected as the MP for Barnsley Central, I have always fought for the interests of miners and their families, and striven to give them a voice in Parliament.
As it stands, the ‘surplus sharing’ arrangements of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (MPS) are deeply unfair – as all surpluses are shared 50/50 between the Scheme’s members and the Government, who provide a guarantee for the Scheme.
However, given that the Government have never been required to pay into the Scheme, this has meant that surpluses that should have been shared between retired miners have instead been paid to the Government. Instead, I believe that we need to reform the surplus sharing arrangements to better reflect the relationship between the MPS and the Government.
It is very important that the MPS delivers the best possible outcome for its members.
- July 2017: Signed Early Day Motion 235 calling on the Government to enter into open and fair negotiations with the MPS Trustees.
- October 2017: Asked a question in Parliament about whether the Government planned to review the surplus sharing arrangements.
- June 2018: Met with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM); Trustees of the MPS; and fellow coalfield MPs to discuss how we can lobby the Government to change the surplus sharing scheme.
I will continue to work with the Trustees of the MPS, the NUM and my fellow coalfield MPs to lobby the Government on introducing a fairer surplus sharing scheme for retired miners and their families. It is unacceptable that the Government have continued to reap the benefits of a 50% share of surpluses, without needing to invest into it. I will fight for a fairer Scheme that benefits my constituents and provides them with financial security in retirement.
I am pleased that the next Labour Government will review the MPS surplus sharing arrangements to ensure a better deal for miners.