The benefits of economic recovery must be felt across the country and not just confined to the affluent south, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said.
George Osborne said it was important the upturn in the economy was not just limited to “the city of London and the south” as latest figures showed unemployment and inflation falling.
“I am determined that everybody benefits from this recovery and that’s what we’re going to set out to do with our economic plan,” he added.
Mr Osborne will announce the Government’s plans on the future of the country’s economy in the autumn statement to Parliament on December 5. He was speaking to reporters at Thoresby Colliery in Nottinghamshire as the political debate continues over the cost of living, and following large gas and electric price rises announced by the UK’s biggest energy firms in recent weeks.
Mr Osborne toured Nottinghamshire’s last working colliery near Mansfield to announce Government help for up to 1,500 miners and ex-miners affected by the recent collapse of subsidiary companies of UK Coal. The companies went into administration leaving a question mark over the future of those workers and former miners’ concessionary fuel allowance payments to which they were entitled under a deal first struck with unions in the 1980s.
Under the deal announced by Mr Osborne, they will now be entitled to choose up to £1,300 of free coal or up to £600 cash in lieu of coal every year - the same as those already included under an existing Government scheme. About 69,000 former mine workers or their families already receive their allowances from the Government, under the National Concessionary Fuel Scheme.
However UK Coal and its subsidiaries have been liable for the payments to their own workers since 1994, when the industry was privatised, and the company formed.
Mr Osborne said: “I’ve come here at the end of a week where jobs are being created in the British economy; unemployment is down; and inflation is down, with a very clear message.
“I don’t want this to just be a recovery in the city of London and the south, I want this to be a recovery in the whole of the country.”
Speaking about the Government’s decision to help the miners, he denied it was a political gimmick.
“There were ex-miners who lost the concessionary coal they were getting because the company they work for went bust,” he said.
“I’m determined to help those ex-miners so the Government is going to step in and pay for the concessionary coal, and that’s because local MPs like Mark Spencer came to me with this hard case and I was determined to do something to help.”