DURHAM Miners' Association has welcomed news that former pitmen suffering from a crippling hand condition can make a benefit claim from next month.

The former miners' union has been leading a five-year campaign to get Dupuytren’s Contracture, known as miner's claw, to get the condition recognised as an industrial disease.

The incurable condition, common among former pitmen, causes fingers to curl over into a claw-like state and can lead to amputation.

The DMA has been campaigning since 2014, when the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council recommended that the Government recognise the condition as an industrial disease.

It was added to the list of prescribed diseases for which Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit is payable last year but plans to make it available in April were delayed.

Alan Mardghum, secretary of the DMA, said the change secured a "measure of justice" for former miners.

He added: “Dupuytren’s Contracture is a serious and debilitating condition that impacts the ability of sufferers to carry out day-to-day tasks.

“We welcome this decision, but it is long overdue. The Tory Government ignored medical opinion and for five years have denied people the help they are entitled to.

"This is yet another example of the contempt the Tories have for working people."

Mr Mardghum thanked Laura Pidcock, Grahame Morris, Ian Lavery and Roberta Blackman-Woods for their support as Labour MPs to the campaign.

Claims can be made by anyone who worked in any industry – not just coal mining – if they used power tools at work for at least two hours a day, three days a week, for at least ten years.

Those who have the condition can claim from the Department for Work and Pensions after December 9.

The DMA will provide support, guidance and advice to its members.