Alan Cummings, Durham Miners' Association
The spirit of Scrooge lives on in the corridors of power as injured miners are refused vital benefit payments.
Two former Wearmouth miners - made paraplegic in an underground accident - have been forced them to reapply for their entitlement by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) .
The Durham Miners Association (DMA) is also fighting the case of a 56-year-old miner who recently died of the lung disease pneumoconiosis. The DWP refused to accept his claim for compensation despite a medical consultant's opinion that he had the disease and a coroner's judgement that it contributed to his death.
DMA Secretary Alan Cummings, said the DWP were denying vulnerable people payments by forcing them into a 'labyrinth of form filling'.
The paraplegic Wearmouth miners have been forced to reapply for Employment Support Allowance despite having had no prospect of work since their life-threatening accidents over 25 years ago. “It is unbelievable that people who have given their lives and health to industry are treated in this way.
“The DWP is acting with Dickensian brutality and a meanness which would make Scrooge proud. The miners have had no benefit payments since June while the DWP sends them on a paperchase to claim the money to which they are obviously entitled,” said Mr Cummings.
“This is shameful from a government which claims it would not hound and pursue people who genuinely could not work. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Damien Green gave this pledge earlier this year. He clearly has not checked that his department is carrying out his wishes. He should be ashamed of himself, ” said Mr Cummings.
Former miner Derek Graham died of lung disease last week after struggling against the illness for over a year. The DWP refused to grant benefits, despite a clear diagnosis of his condition. “He was not asking for much. Just enough to make his final days more comfortable,” added Mr Cummings.
The DMA is now fighting for the paraplegic miners' money to be paid in time for Christmas but are not hopeful that DWP will respond to the Christmas spirit.
“Our members have survived on using credit cards and help from friends and family for six months. The DWP seems not to care. It is a brutal system which ruthlessly ignores people's rights,” said Mr Cummings.