Rishi Sunak faces severe backlash for ‘scandalous’ pension raid

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Pensions have moved to the forefront of the Government’s agenda in recent weeks as Chancellor Rishi Sunak eyes a shake-up. Reports have suggested Mr Sunak could temporarily break the pension triple lock this year in order to prevent the Treasury being landed with a £3billion uprating bill. Mr Sunak hinted at a change last week as the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that a post-lockdown surge in pay growth will result in the state pension going up by eight percent next April.

The pension triple lock being preserved was a 2019 Conservative Party manifesto pledge, so a suspension could provoke anger from some.

Last month, another Government pension move sparked fury.

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Retired miners saw £4.4billion taken out of their pockets in what Labour called an “unjustified” raid.

The Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme was privatised in 1994.

The deal meant the Treasury received 50 percent of the fund’s surplus value.

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Around 152,000 people are members of the scheme and their average pension is just £84 a week.

When the fund was privatised, it was expected the Government would receive around £4billion in today’s money, but that payout has climbed to £4.4billion, according to a report by MPs.

The Government is also due to receive at least another £1.9billion on top of 50 percent off any future surpluses, in what the cross-party Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee called an “historic injustice”.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised during the 2019 general election he would take action on the matter.

Last month, Labour’s Ed Miliband condemned the Government and said his party would ensure miners are given the pension they deserve.

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He said: “It’s wrong and scandalous that the Conservative Government set up an arrangement which was a totally unjustified raid on miners’ pensions. It is high time that the Government acted to right this historic wrong.

“Labour would do the right thing and ensure miners get the pensions to which they are entitled, including returning £1.2billion which would make a difference to retired miners and their families.

“Labour is fighting for justice for retired miners and their families. Returning this money to those who rightly deserve it is the right and just thing to do. We demand the Government acts.”

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Earlier this month, it was reported that Chancellor Sunak will block the return of the cash to the miners.

Charles Chiverton of the mineworkers’ pension campaign said: “Gangsters dressed as politicians are a total disgrace. The arrangements were legalised mugging of an occupational pension scheme.”

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Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has pledged to return the money if Labour comes to power.

Barnsley East Labour MP Stephanie Peacock said: “The Government should not be in the business of profiting from miners’ pensions.”

A spokesman for the Government told The Mirror: “Pension scheme members are receiving payments 33 percent higher than they would have thanks to the Government’s guarantee.”

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