More support needed for former mining communities

Nicky wilson crt scottish trustee (1)

Nicky Wilson: Still much work to be done. 

Coalfield towns are still beset by poverty and inequality, a charity has said. 

9th December 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Poverty and inequality are still rife among Scotland’s former mining communities, according to a national charity.

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) said many old mining towns and villages suffer from lower employment, higher rates of child poverty, and lower educational attainment rates than other parts of the country.

Politicians from all parties are now being urged to tackle inequality in these communities, which are home to around 10% of the Scottish population.

The CRT, backed by Scottish Government funding, has invested £20 million into former mining areas since it was founded in 1999, but says much more needs to be done.

A study for the charity by Glasgow-based research firm Social Value Lab found some 30% of coalfield neighbourhoods are now in the most deprived 20% of Scotland. Significant and concentrated deprivation was recorded in Fife, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire and West Lothian. 

Coalfield communities were also found to have higher rates of 16 to 19-year olds not in education, employment or training and fewer 17 to 21-year olds enrolling in higher education when compared to the rest of the country.

Unemployment is higher in coalfield areas, with 4.3% of the working age population claiming Universal Credit or Job Seekers Allowance in October 2019, compared to the national average of 3.1%.

Rates of child poverty are also above average with 17,750 children (21%) living in low income families.

CRT trustee Nicky Wilson said politicians must now commit to addressing the social and economic issues faced by former mining communities.

“Since our organisation was established to assist former coalfield communities they have come a long way, achieved a great deal and we have made a lasting and positive impact,” he said.

“However, there is much work to be done to ensure these communities benefit from a better quality of life, improved access to opportunities and services and are as resilient and sustainable as other parts of Scotland.”