A new report by academics from Sheffield Hallam University has been launched today which takes stock of social and economic conditions in former coalfields, 30 years on from one of the key events in UK history - the 1984/85 miners' strike.
In the intervening years, almost all of Britain’s coal mines have closed and more than 200,000 coal jobs have been lost.
The new report, commissioned by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, paints a disturbing picture. There is evidence of regeneration, especially in the years before the recession, but on many indicators the former coalfields lag badly behind national and regional averages.
The new report provides detailed figures for each of the 16 individual coalfield areas across England, Scotland and Wales.
The graphic (see right) on this page illustrates some of the key issues of on-going disadvantage in the coalfields.
Professor Steve Fothergill from the University's Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, who led the research, said: “The miners’ strike of 1984/85 may now be receding into history but the job losses that followed in its wake are still part of the everyday economic reality of most mining communities.
"The consequences are still all too visible in statistics on jobs, unemployment, welfare benefits and health.
“The evidence provides a compelling case that most of the coalfield communities of England, Scotland and Wales still require support.”
The new report from Sheffield Hallam is the latest in a close association between the University and mining communities, especially in neighbouring parts of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
The University’s previous research on the former coalfields has included studies of community relations in the wake of the strike, the rise of ‘hidden unemployment’, educational attainment in coalfield schools, under-funding by the Lottery and progress in regeneration.
Peter McNestry Chair of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust said: “This report really brings home the scale of the deprivation that has been faced by 5.5 million people, more than Scotland’s total population. What’s more, these coalfields communities have had to endure this for well over a quarter of a century.
“The tough reality for coalfields residents is that these problems will not go away overnight.”
“We cannot simply turn our backs on more than 5 million people. We have worked for 15 years to support these communities and to provide them with access to the resources, practical advice and funding that they need to help themselves. We have come some way to improving the situation in the coalfields but this report proves there is still a great deal of work to be done.
“It’s not something we can do on our own and whilst we will continue to collaborate with our third sector partners to maximise available resources, this has become increasingly challenging in the current funding climate.
“We are pleased to see that the report has made specific reference to the areas that now appear distinctly less disadvantaged. They are a positive example of what we hope to achieve throughout all coalfields communities.”
1. For further comment and interviews contact the Sheffield Hallam press office on 0114 225 2811.
2. Download a copy of the The State Of The Coalfields report by Mike Foden, Steve Fothergill and Tony Gore.
3. The report is being launched on Wednesday 18 June at a meeting of the All-Party Group of Coalfield MPs in Westminster.
For press information: contact Ally Mogg in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2811 or email email@example.com
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