Mining communities still ‘scarred’ by pit closures

Former mining communities in the north are still ‘scarred’ by the legacy of pit closures, according to a new report.

Commissioned by The Coalfields Regeneration Trust compiled by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, the report explores the effects of pit closures, a generation on, and paints a picture of communities blighted by unemployment and poverty.

According to the report, 42% of residents in coalfields live in the most deprived 30% in the UK, which is a figure that’s barely moved in five years.

The UK’s former coalfields have a combined population of 5.7 million, which is roughly the same as a typical English region and more than the whole of either Scotland or Wales.

The report says that for the employment rate to reach parity with south-east England it would require 170,000 additional coalfield residents to be in work.

While the number of jobs in the coalfields has increased in recent years, it’s been at half the rate in the main regional cities and only a third of the rate in London.

Jobs are predominantly low paid, which has triggered widespread entitlement to Tax Credits. However, by 2021 welfare cuts are expected to take a total of £2.4bn a year from coalfield residents.

The report also found that one-in-twelve of the entire population of the coalfields claim 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.

‘Whilst there is no question that the former coalfields have benefitted from the upturn the evidence that there has been “catching up” is far less clear.  Indeed, on some measures, the coalfields are falling 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.’

For more details on The Coalfields Regeneration Trust visit their website.

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter


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