Coal liabilities

Information about the entitlements the government provides to coal miners that worked for British Coal, and their widows.

When the coal industry was privatised in 1994, under the terms of the Coal Industry Act 1994 the government became responsible for providing certain entitlements to coal miners that had worked for British Coal (the nationalised corporation) and their widows.

In October 2008 these liabilities were transferred from the then Department of Trade and Industry to the newly created Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC).

Current responsibilities

DECC oversees the following obligations related to coal liabilities originating between 1947 and 1994:

DECC continues to receive new health compensation claims under common law from former British Coal employees for Noise Induced Hearing Loss and some asbestos related conditions, as well as for the conditions formerly compensated under the schemes that are now closed. Those suffering from Pneumoconiosis may be entitled to make a claim direct under DECC’s Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis Scheme. See coal health compensation claims for further information.

The Coal Authority, which was established in 1994 when the coal industry was privatised, manages the environmental and safety-related liabilities of historical coal mining in the UK. This includes:

  • repairing subsidence damage from old coal mining activity and operating an emergency call-out system to secure coalfield subsidence hazards
  • treating water pollution caused by coal mining through a managed investment programme so that water is protected and improved to ‘good’ status
  • sharing its information, skills and experience to help stakeholders make informed decisions when buying property in former coal mining areas

Closed schemes

DECC delivered two major schemes of compensation for nearly 800,000 former British Coal employees. These were related to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Vibration White Finger (VWF). Both schemes are now closed to new claims but former miners and their families may be able to pursue compensation through common law.

All coal health compensation claims made under the schemes forCOPD and VWF have now been settled.