HUNDREDS of ex-miners across Barnsley had their data compromised following a cyber attack - prompting a councillor to urge the firm to do more to protect local people.
In March, Capita - the service which holds all the data from the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme - faced a cyber attack in which there was a suspected data breach.
First introduced in 1952, the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme was a pension scheme for coal miners, to ensure they received a good pension after years of work in the coal mines.
The rules of the scheme set out certain benefits payable to the members and prior to April 1975, members paid a flat-rate contribution of up to 20p per week.
At the end of 1994, following privatisation, the government took over the role as guarantor for the MPS from British Coal.
Arrangements were subsequently put in place whereby the government guaranteed that the members of the MPS would always receive the benefits they had earned up to that date and that, in future, those benefits would rise annually in line with inflation.
In 2017, the surplus fund the MPS had accumulated was valued in excess of £1.2bn.
The firm this week confirmed that some data was breached - leaving a number of Barnsley residents in the lurch.
Coun Kevin Osborne, who represents the Darfield ward, said the breach creates a ‘worrying time’ for ex-miners across the town.
He told the Chronicle: “As a Labour councillor for Darfield I was approached for support by Paul Nortcliff, a member of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (MPS) from Middlecliffe, who last week received a letter from Paul Trickett, Chair of Trustees of the MPS advising him that his personal data had been ‘compromised’.
“Other ex-miners in my community confirmed they had received similar letters.
“The letter creates a worrying time for ex-mineworkers in Darfield and beyond.
“I understand around 90 organisations including the MPS have reported breaches of personal data held by Capita.
“The company suffered a cyber-attack in March this year and it then emerged that Capita had left a pool of data unsecured online.
“It’s clear this data breach may expose residents like Paul to fraud and exploitation.”
Coun Osborne added that the support ex-miners have received is simply not enough.
“It’s also troubling that Capita is a government contractor and holds billions of pounds’ worth of public-sector contracts including disability payment assessment services for the Department for Work and Pensions - let’s hope that data is secure too.
“I call on Capita to do all they can to support Paul and other members of the MPS in my community.
“They deserve more than just a letter - they need personalised practical support including a full background check to ensure their personal data is not being used by online criminals.
“Ex-miners and their families need to live out their lives in safety and security - not doubt and concern.”
A spokesperson for the MPS has apologised for the incident - stating they are doing all in their control to ensure something similar doesn’t happen again.
“Following a detailed investigation, Capita has confirmed that unfortunately the incident may have affected the security of personal data for our members who are currently receiving their pension.( “Capita cannot be certain that any MPS data has been compromised, but we believe it’s appropriate to act as if this is the case and warn affected members about the potential risks.
“There is the possibility that if personal data is accessed it could be used for fraud, identity theft or to send malicious emails.( “We would like to say how sorry we are that this has happened.
“We take the responsibility of protecting members’ personal data very seriously and we have sought information about what Capita has done to improve the security of personal data and avoid a future incident.( “We want to reassure you that your pension remains secure.”