Gap in prosperity haunts former coalfield areas

Newtongrange

Mining towns suffer more than most 

19th June 2020 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Scotland’s former mining communities remain among the most disadvantaged areas of the country.

They suffer from less opportunities when it comes to education and unemployment and suffer disproportionately from child poverty and poor health and wellbeing, according to a new report.

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT), a charity founded in 1999 to help mining areas cope with the devastating impact of pit closures, commissioned the Social Value Lab (SVL) consultancy to produce The Scottish Coalfields in 2020 report. It provides an updated socio-economic and deprivation assessment of Scotland’s former coalmining communities from analysis previously carried out by SVL in 2013.

And since the new report was completed, Covid-19 has already exacerbated existing issues and problems in coalfields areas, including health, wellbeing and finances, and CRT has warned that the impact of the pandemic will be felt for some time to come.

‘The report examines such aspects as socio-economic conditions in former coalmining communities, how conditions in those communities compare with other areas, changes and trends over time and ongoing challenges. 

Although coalfields have come a long way in recent years, with support from the CRT, the picture across education, employment, income and health has worsened since the SVL analysis in 2013.

Nicky Wilson, chair of the CRT trustees in Scotland, said: “While we’re proud of what we’ve achieved since the Coalfields Regeneration Trust was founded in 1999 in helping mining communities across Scotland deal with the devastating effects of pit closures, this new report from the Social Value Lab shows the true extent of the work that still needs to be done.

“Unfortunately, too many former mining areas are still among Scotland’s most disadvantaged communities and many people are lagging behind when it comes to education. Rates of unemployment and child poverty are too high, and health and wellbeing still need to be improved.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has also taken its toll on our communities. It is having a big impact on people’s health, wellbeing and finances. The issues caused by the pandemic have hit many former mining areas particularly hard as such communities are often already suffering from deprivation and poor health. Underlying problems have been exacerbated by coronavirus and this unfortunate situation is likely to continue for some time.

“Our work remains vital for the continuing rejuvenation of former mining areas across Scotland. We’re committed to ensuring our communities do not remain disadvantaged by their past legacy.”

The report highlights the extent of the variation within and between coalfield areas. 

Some are progressing relatively well, while others are experiencing different issues and challenges. It said that support and intervention should therefore be tailored in line with the issues in specific areas.