Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced that the government will guarantee the concessionary fuel allowance for around 400 mine workers who lost their jobs as a result of the recent restructuring of UK Coal.
The government will also guarantee the allowance for around 1,000 retired workers previously employed by the company.
In total, around 1,500 former mine workers will be entitled to continue to receive their allowance in the form of cash or coal. They will be entitled to choose up to £1,300 of free coal, or up to £600 cash in lieu of coal per year – in line with the current beneficiaries of the scheme.
The National Concessionary Fuel Agreements were put in place between British Coal and mining unions in the 1980s. When the British Coal Corporation was privatised in 1994, the government retained the obligation to provide concessionary fuel to former British Coal workers entitled to it.
The concessionary fuel arrangements for UK Coal were funded by UK Coal as part of their inheritance as a successor company.
About 69,000 former mine workers or their families receive a fuel allowance from Government each year under the National Concessionary Fuel Scheme. This announcement will mean that a further 1,500 former mine workers, who would otherwise have lost their benefits following the collapse of UK Coal, will now be brought into the scheme.
Speaking at Thoresby Colliery in Mansfield, George Osborne said:
A number of local MPs brought to my attention that former mine workers were losing their concessionary fuel allowance, through no fault of their own when UK Coal went into administration.
I wanted to help and because we are fixing the economy, we can. It is right and fair that we make sure they continue to receive their allowance and that is why we are bringing them into the government scheme.
Photo courtesy of Glen Bowman on Flickr - used under Creative Commons.