MPs cast doubt on coalfield regeneration
MPs have voiced ‘serious concerns’ about whether government efforts to regenerate former coal mining areas have achieved value for money.
A report published by the Public Accounts Committee into regenerating former coalfields criticises the Communities and Local Government department for failing to co-ordinate three regeneration initiatives for the areas, and for a lack of clear vision.
The report says the department did not have a robust way of measuring whether the initiatives had made any improvements to the lives of people living in the coalfield areas. Although the CLG has spent £630 million on the National Coalfields Programme, the Coalfield Regeneration Trust and the Coalfield Enterprise Fund, 37 per cent of coalfield areas are still among the most deprived in England.
Edward Leigh, committee chairman, called for the department to ‘start afresh’ as it seeks to spend £450 million on the initiatives. He said: ‘It is extremely doubtful whether the three initiatives by the department for Communities and Local Government to regenerate the former coal mining areas are achieving value for money.
‘Despite spending £630 million so far, and 13 years after the launch of the initiatives, the department still does not really know what improvement it has made to the lives of the people living in these areas.’
Regeneration minister Ian Austin said: ‘It is disappointing that the PAC does not share the National Audit Office’s view that many coalfield areas have been transformed as a result of £1 billion investment from government over the last decade.
‘Twenty-five years ago entire communities were devastated by the coal industry’s collapse – now whole communities have been revived with almost 150,000 people getting new jobs or retraining.’