MPs welcome coal allowance decision for former pit workers

MPs from across the district have welcomed a decision by chancellor George Osborne to honour fuel allowance benefits to ex-miners.

The concessionary fuel allowance was removed from around 1,500 former miners and their widows following the insolvency of UK Coal earlier this year.

Now the government will guarantee the allowance for around 400 mine workers who lost their jobs as a result of the restructuring of UK Coal, along with around 1,000 retired mineworkers previously employed by the company.

The allowance – paid to around 69,000 ex-miners – entitles them to either £1,300 free coal or up to £600 cash in lieu of coal each year.

Mr Osborne said: “A number of MPs brought to my attention that former mine workers were losing their concessionary fuel allowance through no fault of their own.

“It is only right and fair that we make sure they continue to receive their allowance.”

Yvette Cooper, Pontefract and Castleford MP, said: “This U-turn is a great achievement by the NUM and everyone who backed our campaign and will make a big difference to many local families. This should have been sorted when the deal was done to keep Kellingley open. But I’m glad it’s finally been sorted now thanks to everyone’s hard work.”

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett said: “I am pleased the government has responsed to the arguments put forward by MPs in the former mining areas. The decision is welcome but belated. I know many former miners and widows have faced a great deal of anguish over the last six months while they have waited for a decision.”

Selby MP Nigel Adams said: “The decision to withdraw the allowance was in my view callous and I’m thrilled the chancellor has listened to my campaign andstepped in to restore this important right.”