Coalfields cash drops
Housing minister Grant Shapps announced a £30million funding for the government’s national coalfield programme yesterday, which was a slight drop from the previous three years.
The cash for improving deprivation in the country’s coalfields areas is for the next two years. The programme had been given £56million for the last three years.
Mr Shapps said despite millions of pounds having being spent on coalfield regeneration over the past decade, coalfield communities were still plagued by long term unemployment and economic recovery remained fragile.
‘We are making a significant investment in coalfield communities, one secured against a background of hard decisions on spending priorities,’ he said. ‘And in the current economic climate it is even more important that these resources are more tightly focused on most deprived areas.’
Gary Ellis, chief executive of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, said: ‘We are pleased that the government has continued to support the work of the national coalfields programme in a very difficult economic climate.
‘It will take us a little time to consider how we use the resources available, to effectively serve the interests of former coalfield communities.’
Although he said the drop in funding would mean that the CRT could have to change the way it operates, he added: ‘We look forward to positively addressing the challenges ahead, and at the same time, embrace new opportunities.’
The announcement followed the publication of the government’s response to the review of coalfields regeneration led by former Barnsley West and Penistone MP Michael Clapham. The review was published in September last year.
The government has accepted many of the review’s findings, including the need for continued investment in former coalfield communities and that local authorities should have a central role in the next phase of coalfield regeneration.