Forty years since miners' strike, battle is on for coalfield funds

The Scottish Government is being urged to reverse a damaging cut in funding to coalfield communities in 2024.
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Forty years on from the start of the miners’ strike in 1984, which sounded the death knell for our mining industry, Scotland’s coalfield communities still suffer from health, skills and employment issues.

On many measures, they are around twice as bad as the Scottish average.

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust was established in 1999 to tackle these long-standing social and economic issues with a revenue grant from the Scottish Government worth £1.5 million (in 1999 prices).

Clydesdale has received a lot of support from the CRT thanks to its mining industry; the pits at Auchlochan and Douglas Water are pictured here.Clydesdale has received a lot of support from the CRT thanks to its mining industry; the pits at Auchlochan and Douglas Water are pictured here.
Clydesdale has received a lot of support from the CRT thanks to its mining industry; the pits at Auchlochan and Douglas Water are pictured here.

This grant was reduced to £750,000 in 2011 before being cut again to £650,000 in 2023.

Last year, the Scottish Government also prevented the Coalfields Regeneration Trust awarding grants to smaller grassroots charities in the former coalfields due to its procurement rules.

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust is calling on the Scottish Government to reverse the damaging £100,000 cut to the CRT’s funding; change the procurement rules to allow the CRT to reinstate its grant programme, which is a vital source of funding for many small charities and provide a capital endowment fund to the CRT to allow it to build industrial units for SMEs, generating jobs and economic growth.

A joint letter from charities, councillors and community organisations in Scotland’s former coalfield communities supported these measures and urged the Minister for Local Government, Joe FitzPatrick, to reverse the damaging funding cut.

Nicky Wilson hopes government will work with the CRT.Nicky Wilson hopes government will work with the CRT.
Nicky Wilson hopes government will work with the CRT.

In a debate in the Scottish Parliament on December 19, led by Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley, there was cross-party agreement – with SNP, Labour and Conservative MSPs speaking in support of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

Alex said: “In acknowledging the difficult financial climate, I emphasise that it is now more crucial than ever that funding is prioritised where it will have the greatest impact. That is why I am calling tonight on the Government to look again at the £100,000 cut that has been made to the Coalfields Regeneration Trust budget.

“The fact remains that the former coalfield communities still have some of the highest levels of poverty and inequality in Scotland and, in my experience of representing such communities over many years, the payback for a small amount of resource and finance can be significant.”

The CRT has created a self-sustaining funding model based on the development of industrial starter units for SMEs. This would create jobs and economic growth in deprived former coalfield communities while also generating a sustainable, long term income stream for the CRT’s charitable work to regenerate former coalfield communities.

This model has been successfully used to fund the CRT’s work in England for a number of years through its subsidiary CRT Property.

The CRT now wants to work with the Scottish Government to create a capital endowment to deliver this successful model in order to support Scotland’s former coalfield communities.

Nicky Wilson, the Trust’s vice-chairman, said: “As we prepare to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike in 2024, the damage following the closure of the mining industry continues to impact Scotland’s former coalfield communities.

“On a number of poverty, health and skills measures the challenges facing former coalfields are twice as bad as the Scottish average.

“In this crucial anniversary year, we look forward to working with Local Government, Empowerment and Planning Minister Joe FitzPatrick MSP to create a capital endowment.

“This would enable us to receive a sustainable funding stream to address these deep and significant issues in the former coalfields.”

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust is dedicated to building prosperity and opportunity in Scotland’s former coalfield communities.

The charity is the only organisation with the sole focus of improving the lives of the 5.7 million people who live in former coalfield areas in Scotland, Wales and England.

Its work in Scotland is funded through a grant from the Scottish Government but with the prospect of funding being cut, its support to communities – like our former mining communities right here in Clydesdale – is now under threat.

Over the years, the Trust has supported many projects in our mining communities.

It is now fighting to ensure it can continue to provide those vital funds.

To find out more about the Trust, visit www.coalfields-regen.org.uk.