Coalfield communities remain
among most deprived

Call for politicians to take urgent action

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Former coalfield areas, including many across the north, remain some of the most deprived areas in the country, according to new research.

The statistics on the former mining communities of England, Scotland and Wales expose weaknesses in the local economy, extensive social and economic disadvantage, and widespread ill-health extending far beyond just ex-miners.

The UK’s former coalfields have a combined population of 5.7 million.

The new report, commissioned by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and compiled by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, shows that the areas did experience jobs growth during the years before the last recession, but that it was lower than other areas.

It says that an additional 170,000 jobs would be needed in the areas – with a high concentration in Yorkshire and Humber and the North West – to raise the employment rate to South
East levels.

Around a quarter of a million jobs were lost in the UK coal industry.

Low earnings have triggered widespread entitlement to tax credits but, by 2021, welfare cuts are expected to take a total of £2.4 billion a year from coalfield residents.

One in 12 of the entire population of the coalfields claims Disability Living Allowance or its replacement, Personal Independence Payment.

Professor Steve Fothergill, who led the research, said: “If the coalfields had been a region in their own right, all clustered together in one part of the country, the statistics would probably show the former coalfields to be the most deprived region in
the UK.”

He said that despite jobs growth, the coalfield areas had not caught up with other parts of the country and on some measures have fallen further behind.

“While physical aspects of coalfield regeneration have progressed well, the continuing social and economic problems suggest that action and funding across a broad front is still needed for some years to come,” he added.

The former coalfields are likely to become a key battleground in a general election, with a high level of Leave voters.

Peter McNestry (pictured), chairman of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, said: “The challenge to all parties who have ambition to govern is how they plan to address the ongoing issues in the heart of our communities so clearly demonstrated in this latest independent report.

“We are working up proposals with other key partners on what is required to address deep-rooted issues around employment, skills, and health and wellbeing.

The commitment we need from politicians is that they will take the necessary action that is so clearly required.”

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