£40m investment call to help our ex-mining communities

Chairman of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Peter McNestry.

Chairman of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Peter McNestry.

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A call has been made to create a £40million cash pot to help deprived former colliery communities thrive.

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, which champions ex-mining towns and villages and the 5.5million people living in them, will ask the Government and partners to create an investment fund after it addressed a cross-party political event at Westminster.

We know that we have people who want to work, want to learn, want to spend locally and want to create communities that are alive with opportunities.

Peter McNestry

It has listed the North East as a priority area - including South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham - which are all in the top 20% most deprived communities in the country.

In Sunderland, 38% - 105,317 people - live in the top 20% of the most deprived communities and 29% have no qualifications compared to a national average of 22%, according to Deprivation Statistics for English Coalfield Regions and Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD)

There are 2% fewer people in full time employment in the North East coalfields than the national average, while 24% of people in County Durham have limiting long-term illness compared with 18% nationally.

The trust says the £40million will be used to develop new industrial space in the coalfields, creating much needed jobs, and boosting health and skills.

During the next 25 years, it says it will produce £50million in sustainable income, which in turn will be invested in to social impact projects, creating a wellbeing value of £500million.

It has put forward the case the Government should pledge £30million, with the remaining £10million to be sourced and invested from the trust’s resources.

The funds would go to build new industrial and commercial space in areas where developers are unlikely to invest and create 1,000 jobs in areas where people struggle to get an opportunities.

It also wants an annual income stream of £2million to invest into social projects to help 400 people back into work and support 800 people into volunteering.

The money will also help 5,000 people learn new skills, encourage 8,000 people to take part in activities that will improve their health and benefit 25,000 people as a result of social impact investments.

Chairman of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Peter McNestry, said: “People may think that £30million is a lot of money to ask for, but when you consider the scale of the challenges that still remain, it requires this level of ambition if we are to make the significant and lasting impacts needed.

“We need to get these communities back on their feet.

“We’ve come some way since the closures but there is more that needs to be done.

“We know that we can deliver a social return on investment of £10 for every £1 spent.

“There is no other organisation in the country that could achieve this in our communities.

“We know that we have people who want to work, want to learn, want to spend locally and want to create communities that are alive with opportunities.

“We need to support them to do that.”