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Fight to save miners’ coal benefit

Yvette Cooper MP with miners Keith Poulson, Paul Cartwright, Chris Kitchen and Aubrey Heath. p301a331

Yvette Cooper MP with miners Keith Poulson, Paul Cartwright, Chris Kitchen and Aubrey Heath. p301a331

Miners and widows across the district face having their concessionary fuel allowance permanently scrapped by pit bosses.

Yvette Cooper MP is lobbying UK Coal, its creditor the Pensions Protection Fund (PPF) and government ministers to pay for the traditional miners benefit, which gives retired and ex-miners coal or cash in lieu.

The Express understands UK Coal stopped the allowance last week after the company went into administration to save 2,000 jobs – 700 of which were at Kellingley Colliery .

Ms Cooper is now pushing for the allowance to be reinstated.

She said: “The government, mining companies and PPF need to work together with the unions to get this sorted out so retired miners and their widows aren’t suddenly hit through no fault of their own.

“The allowance provides a lot of help for retired miners and their widows, and changing to gas or other heating can be really costly.

“At a time when pensioners are also being squeezed by rising costs, losing the allowance with no warning could mean some families face real problems.”

A spokesman for UK Coal said ‘difficult decisions’ had to be taken to secure jobs following the devastating fire at their Warwickshire mine, which cost the company £165m.

He added: “Unfortunately, concessionary coal, which had become unaffordable, will now cease for former employees.”

Chris Kitchen, secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, urged those affected to write to their MP.

He added: “I think this is wrong in principle and we need as much pressure putting on as possible to get ministers to reinstate the allowance.”

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said they are continuing to work with PPF.

 

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