Scotland’s former mining communities, particularly East Ayrshire, remain among the most disadvantaged areas in the country when it comes to education, unemployment and child poverty, according to a new report.

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) commissioned ‘The Scottish Coalfields in 2020’ report which found that mining communities have higher rates of 16 to 19-year olds not in education, employment or training, significantly less employment rates with increasing dependence on income-related benefits and higher rates of child poverty.

The report shows a concentrated deprivation in East Ayrshire, as well as areas such as Fife and North Lanarkshire, meaning support should be tailored for specific areas to address the issues.

COVID-19 also poses an increased threat.

Pauline Douglas, CRT Head of Operations in Scotland, said: “We’re doing different things to help mining communities through coronavirus, like setting up a fund which gives £60,000 to 75 community groups to cover different activities and expenses.

“We’re also keen to get more health and wellbeing activities to bring people together so we’re getting communities to identify these things themselves. There’s no doubt Coalfields communities are worse off because of the virus.

“It’s not all doom and gloom and I don’t always want to portray the communities in this way but extra help is needed. We’ve got a great network and everything is community-led.”

The report also shows that 29 per cent of mining communities are among the 20 per cent most disadvantaged for health, up 18 per cent from 2012.

Nicky Wilson, Chair of the CRT trustees in Scotland, said: “Unfortunately, too many former mining areas are still among Scotland’s most disadvantaged communities and many people are lagging behind when it comes to education. Rates of unemployment and child poverty are too high, and health and wellbeing still need to be improved.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has also taken its toll on our communities. It is having a big impact on people’s health, wellbeing and finances. The issues caused have hit many former mining areas particularly hard as such communities are often already suffering from deprivation and poor health. Underlying problems have been exacerbated by coronavirus and this unfortunate situation is likely to continue for some time.

“Our work remains vital. We’re committed to ensuring our communities do not remain disadvantaged by their past legacy.”

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