MPs launch inquiry into govt's arrangements with Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has launched an inquiry into the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme’s (MPS) surplus-sharing arrangements.

In 1994, the government and scheme trustees reached an agreement on the future arrangements for pensions from the MPS after the privatisation of British Coal in 1994.

This saw the government guarantee that any pension earned up to privatisation would not fall in cash terms, with any surplus at subsequent valuations to be shared equally (50:50) between the scheme members and the government.

The BEIS Committee is calling for evidence on how the arrangements were agreed, the government’s role as guarantor of the scheme, and the issue of the government’s entitlement to 50 per cent of any scheme surplus.

On 23 December 2020, a group of MPs representing coalfield communities wrote to the BEIS Committee chair calling for an inquiry, also stating that the government had received over £4bn from the scheme but has made no contribution since 1994.

In answer to a written question in October 2020, Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng, said the government had received £3.41bn up to that point.

“A series of concerns have been raised, by MPs from across the House of Commons and over many years, in relation to MPS,” said BEIS Committee chair, Darren Jones.

“One of the main issues is the fact the government has benefited from the 50:50 surplus sharing arrangements to the tune of billions of pounds and yet has not made a single financial contribution as the scheme’s guarantor.

“In our short inquiry we will examine the background to the surplus-sharing arrangements, the government's role in the scheme, and whether it is fair that the government continues to receive 50 per cent of any surplus in the scheme.

“This is an issue of considerable importance to many former miners and to their local communities who rightly want the pension scheme to properly recognise the hard work and sacrifices made by miners during their working lives."

The committees call for evidence has been launched ahead on an evidence session on 23 March, with MPs asking for evidence submissions from organisations and individuals with views on the MPS, particularly retired miners and scheme beneficiaries.

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