A CAMPAIGNER calling for justice for former mineworkers and their families has hailed a pledge to give £1.2bn back to their pension pots as ‘music to the ears’.

Former miners and their widows have been in a long-standing dispute with the government over billions of pounds taken from the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (MPS).

The scheme affects the incomes of thousands of families across Barnsley and the wider country - prompting Barnsley East MP to spearhead calls for cash to be given back to ex-miners alongside Doncaster MP Ed Miliband.

Labour vowed to put money into miners’ pockets if the party come back into power and campaigner Mick Newton, a long-standing spokesperson on the issue, is thrilled with the party’s commitment.

He said: “The comments will be music to the ears of former mineworkers and widows.

“Sadly, we are losing more pensioners every passing year and successive governments have now taken more than £5bn due to a spurious guarantee that has not cost the government a single penny.

“This long-standing injustice needs to be rectified now, not tomorrow.

“If the government is serious about levelling up our communities, then this would be a quick and easy way to do just that.”

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee report released a year ago said the government ‘failed to conduct due diligence’ in undertaking the ‘arbitrary’ 50-50 split.

However, in its response last summer, the government said it views the existing arrangement as ‘fair and beneficial’, stating it is ‘unable to agree to’ the recommendations made by the committee.

Stephanie added: “Giving former miners the financial settlement they deserve will not only directly support them, but it will also have a significant impact on the local economies of struggling coalfield communities.”