AUSTERITY IS OVER - BUT NOT FOR THE COALFIELDS The Centre for Cities have shared the results from an independent study to announce that large metropolitan areas, accounting for 55 per cent of the population, have faced 74 per cent cuts in public spending in the last decade. Whilst this may conjure up images of large cities with reserves or surplus funds, from the statistics we can see that four of the top five areas hit hardest by austerity measures are in fact coalfield communities; Barnsley (40.4 per cent), Doncaster (30.6 per cent) and Wakefield (30.1 per cent). So, the impact of austerity has hit communities that already sat within the 30 per cent most deprived in the country. Chief Executive of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Gary Ellis, comments: “The analysis by Centre for Cities echoes our first-hand experience of the impact of austerity. The fact that many of our northern former mining towns such as Barnsley, Wakefield and Doncaster are amongst the most effected comes as no surprise. “Local authorities have had to make very difficult choices about the services they deliver. Since 2015 we have received no funding from the UK Government and have seen growing needs in our communities but had less resource to respond. “We are based in the heart of the former South Yorkshire coalfields and are committed to making a difference. In recognition of these challenges, we have targeted our employment and skills, youth engagement and a grant programmes in some of the hardest hit communities. However, we need the support of government and key stakeholders to help us scale up investment and help our communities become areas of opportunity for all who live and work there. “These statistics are a further indication that a new approach is needed which redirects resource and investment where it is needed most.” From the coverage that has been secured across leading national newspapers and online outlets, including the Guardian and Huffington Post, a quote from The Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire, said in response to the Centre for Cities report: “We are investing in Britain’s future by providing local authorities with £91.5bn over the next two years to meet the needs of their residents. “This coming year, local government is getting £1bn extra in funding – a real-terms increase – to strengthen services and support local communities. “On top of this, we are delivering on our vision for a strong Northern Powerhouse economy with wide-ranging support including a historic £13bn investment to improve journeys for commuters and motorists and over £5bn for devolution and growth deals.” It is also understood that there will be a central government spending review in Autumn 2019 to allocate public funds for the next five years. With coalfield communities continuing to be disproportionately impacted with cuts and continued austerity, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust will continue to champion new and viable approaches to redirect funds and resources to the small cities, towns and villages in former mining communities. For those that would like to discuss how they can support these efforts, please call 01226 270800 and ask to speak to Chief Executive, Gary Ellis or Head of Operations (England), Andy Lock.