A BREAKTHROUGH in a long-running battle between ex-miners and the government in relation to a ‘grossly unfair’ pension scheme has been made - after a Barnsley MP spearheaded a campaign for a better deal.

Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East, welcomed changes to the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme that will protect its members’ bonuses.

The changes ensure new payments will provide increases equivalent to 4.2 per cent in each year up to and including 2023.

Prior to this, bonus pensions could be lost or reduced if there was a deficit in 2023 or after.

Bonus pensions, according to the MP, make up a substantial part of members’ pensions - at the time of the last valuation, bonus pensions accounted for 20 per cent of the average weekly pension of a retired miner.

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Stephanie said: “I am glad the government has finally agreed to protecting the pension bonuses of retired miners.

“Ex-miners from areas like Barnsley worked down the pits for decades to power our country - all they want is a fair deal.

“For years pensioners have been subsidising the government and

I will continue to hold ministers to account on the issue of the surplus sharing arrangement, pushing for a review of the deal so that miners get their fair share.”

Former miners earn an average pension of £84 a week, but whistleblowers say the government pocketed more than £4bn from the scheme despite not putting a penny in.

The MP has previously asked for more than £2bn - currently sat dormant in the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme - to be released.

She held a parliamentary debate on this issue, pressing ministers to rethink the surplus sharing arrangement that gives the government 50 per cent of any surplus the scheme makes.

A previous admission from the government to MPs in the form of a response to a written question showed the initial deal that entitled them to such a large proportion of money was based on no expert actuarial advice.

“Former miners and their widows are currently scrimping and saving to make ends meet,” the MP added.

“They deserve a deal that protects their pensions and recognises their contribution to the UK’s economy. A fairer deal has been promised for far too long. We will work hard to ensure they get finally get some justice.

“Currently former miners earn an average pension of £84 a week but, in sharp contrast, the government has pocketed £4bn from the scheme despite not putting a penny in.

“Former miners, many of whom are suffering from poor health as a result of their service, deserve a larger share of this money.”