A UNION boss has accused a government department of acting in the spirit of Scrooge by forcing miners who were horrendously injured in a pit disaster to “jump through hoops” for their entitlements.

Durham Miners’ Association secretary Alan Cummings cited the case of two former Wearmouth Colliery miners who, he said, had been required to reapply for their entitlement by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) .

Mr Cummings, said the DWP made the men go through a”labyrinth of form filling”, despite having had no prospect of working since being made paraplegics in the accident over 25 years ago.

He said: “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 DWP sends them on a paperchase to claim the money to which they are obviously entitled.

“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 Damian Green gave this pledge earlier this year.

“He clearly has not checked that his department is carrying out his wishes.”

Mr Cummings said one of the miners, who was on Employment Support Allowance had been sent a form to detail his conditions.

He added: “I put in a submission saying he had no miraculous medical interventions since his accident and there was no chance he would improve. He isn’t able to walk.

“I was quite surprised when he was told to attend a medical examination.

“The DWP had enough information on him. He shouldn’t have been bothered.”

Mr Cummings said the other miner had been required to fill in forms to keep his Personal Independence Payment.

He said: “Why should they have to jump through hoops to keep their benefits? It is crass and insensitive.”

Both men were kept on the same level of benefits.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Assessments are important to help ensure people get the level of support that they need, rather than just writing them off to a life on benefits as happened in the past.

“We continue to spend around £50 billion a year to support sick and disabled people.”

She said, PIP is a dynamic benefit that is able to adjust support in line with the claimant’s needs. If someone’s condition worsens – or indeed improves - we need to ensure they are still receiving the right support.

As the Secretary of State announced earlier this year, people suffering from the most severe health conditions will no longer have to go through any reassessment process in order to continue receiving ESA. More details will be published in due course, she added.