Memorandum by The Coalfields Regeneration
Trust (COA 24)
The Coalfields Task Force report of 1998 recommended
that Government invest in a "ring-fenced fund to support
coalfields regeneration" (page 52 para 6.40). The Coalfields
Regeneration Trust is the result of that recommendation.
The Trust is an independent charity and limited
company that supports coalfields communities through grant-making
investment and strategic interventions. To date it has invested
£69 million in over 1,000 projects.
As a product of the Task Force report, and as
a key player in regeneration of coalfields communities, the Trust
would like to comment upon its own role, responsibilities, policies
and practices and the lessons that have been learned over the
past 4 years relating to community regeneration. In particular,
this evidence continues to support the argument that:
The social or "people"
side of regeneration, whilst often undervalued, is vital to the
success of coalfields regeneration, and is equal in importance
to "hard" economic strategies.
A commitment to Government funding
for the support of regenerating coalfields communities is essential
and should provide for a medium term 10-year strategy.
Detailed local knowledge is essential
to an effective targeting of funds.
Community development and capacity
building is an essential ingredient to grass-roots project investment.
Special projects and partnership
initiatives, which ensure ownership of change by local people,
are needed in addition to grant making.
As pit closures still continuean
early response combined with specialist knowledge of the mining
culture, can lessen the blow to both workforce and surrounding
The supportive and informal environment
provided by the community and voluntary sector makes it a good
place to engage in regeneration initiatives dealing with learning,
health and welfare.
Special efforts need to continue
to make sure that coalfields communities receive maximum benefit
from land reclamation and inward investment.
2. THE ROLE
2.1 Defining "the coalfields"
When the Trust was launched in 1999, it was
primarily as a grant-making body, supporting "coalfields
In order to invest funding in line with its
brief and comply with the Charity Commission requirements, the
Trust had to come to a definition of a "coalfields community",
as distinct from other communities. The definition adopted was
based on research by Sheffield Hallam University. This research
defined coalfields wards as those having 10% or more of the male
population in 1991 involved in the energy industry. This research,
combined with the Indices of Multiple Deprivation informs the
Trust's funding strategy but it is tempered by detailed on-the-ground
information based on local knowledge.
2.2 To explain: electoral wards are, logistically,
the smallest area that agencies can easily target. However, a
ward that is not designated as being a coalfields ward under the
Sheffield Hallam definition (because overall only a small percentage
of people were involved in the energy industry) may contain an
estate or village that is almost wholly inhabited by former mine-workers
and their families.
The Trust would look more closely at an application
from such an area in the initial stages of application, in order
to determine that a coalfields community was genuinely being targeted.
This ensures that relevant communities do not miss out on funding
because they fall foul of the strict definition of "coalfields
community", which is based on ward-wide data.
Equally, an electoral ward that is, on average,
affluent (and therefore not a priority according to the Indices
of Multiple Deprivation) may contain pockets of deprivation.
The local knowledge of the Trust's on-the-ground staff again ensures
that such pockets are not put at a disadvantage by their proximity
to more affluent areas.
2.3 Lessons learnt:
From the outset, the Trust has accepted that
ward boundaries do not necessarily define communities in a way
that is meaningful either to the communities themselves, or to
regeneration professionals. The Trust has adopted a flexible
system to address this issue, and this is enabled by detailed
local knowledge, supplied by a network of regionally located staff.
3. MISSION STATEMENT
3.1 Mission statement:
Working with partners, our mission is to lead
the way in coalfields regeneration and to restore healthy, prosperous
and sustainable communities.
Within this mission, the Trust has two key objectives:
To complement the work of RDAs and
other economy-driven agencies by focusing on the so-called "softer",
or social side of regeneration.
To inform and influence policy-makers
with regard to coalfields issues, and bend mainstream spend into
needy coalfields communities.
3.2 Social regeneration:
Economic and social regeneration must go hand
in hand. By working with other agencies with a focus on physical
regeneration, the Trust provides added value in ensuring the communities
are connected to new opportunities in their areas.
It is now well documented (Joseph Rowntree research
being the best cited example), that "trickle-down" arguments,
where physical change naturally translates into economic growth
do not work in all cases.
Our approach is to make regeneration programmes
more cost effective by bringing local communities closer to wider
strategies in their areas. Supporting the social economy also
results in improvements to the fiscal economy. The Trust therefore
seeks to award grants to grass roots projects where social needs
are met by local people with stakes in the projects' success.
This policy helps to ensure that money stays in the locality,
to the benefit of the local population.
3.3 This "bottom-up" approach
to coalfields regeneration demands a consequent investment in
community support, or capacity building, and the Trust provides
this in two ways:
Locally based Regeneration Managers
help groups to develop ideas into deliverable projects, which
can be put forward to Trustees for possible funding.
If Trustees decide to offer a grant,
the in-house Grants team takes a problem-solving approach to issues
that crop up throughout the life of that grant, ensuring that
ongoing support is maintained.
This approach illustrates value for money provided
by the Trust's staff. In working directly with communities a
network of people is created. By working directly with a team
in one project, and linking them with people in other projects,
the Trust is developing extensive social networks, often across
several geographical areas. This is particularly valuable in areas
where capacity is low. The Trust is increasingly engaged in developing
special projects to stimulate local activity in response to specific
problems or circumstances.
3.4 Lessons learnt:
Supporting the social economy can help to reach
areas that other strategies cannot, but it can be difficult to
find support for this approach within competing mainstream policy-making
and resourcingespecially when results are likely to be
qualitative and relative rather than quantitative and absolute.
Investment in coalfields communities through grant-making alone
is insufficient. The Trust is implementing approaches which are
imperative to kick-start activity in some areas.
4.1 The Trust began by assisting communities
that had suffered closure during the last quarter of the 20th
century. Now, in the 21st century, a new wave of closures has
begun. During 2002, the Prince of Wales colliery in Yorkshire
was closed. Clipstone colliery in Nottinghamshire is undergoing
the same fate. The Selby Mine Complex (once the jewel in the crown
of the British mining industry) is scheduled for closure in Spring
4.2 One of the Trust's responses, has been
to devise SKILLSbuilderan innovative programme to re-skill
miners for a career in the construction industry, an industry
enjoying a boom and where there are fundamental skills shortages.
Through the SKILLSbuilder programme, each miner receives a detailed
assessment of his skills, and what will be needed to commence
a suitable new career in construction. The miner is then accepted
onto a retraining programme, with a guarantee of work with a local
employer on completion. The Trust pays the miners a tapering wage
in the retraining period in line with increased competence, with
the employer picking up the full wage on qualification.
SKILLSbuilder is a particular labour market
intervention offering a preventative approach. It intervenes
at the point of need preventing long-term unemployment. This
reduces public outlay in benefits, and ensures that the work ethic
is still strong in participants.
4.3 In the case of the Selby mine closures,
the Trust has been involved in a number of ways, in addition to
As a member of the Government's Selby
Task Force, the Trust helped to broaden the Task Force agenda,
to include a consideration of social/community aspects.
The Trust's cross-boundary approach
helped to ensure that coalfields issues were discussed sub-regionally,
across all affected areas, rather than just in the locality of
The Trust played a key linking role,
to ensure that the decisions of the Task Force filtered down to
officer level, and that the various agencies involved acted in
a co-ordinated way. Initiatives such as the Pit-head Information
Points, containing information on activities by the relevant agencies
The Trust utilised its understanding
of the mining work culture to foster trust between agencies, workforce
and union representatives.
The Trust's independent charity status
enabled it to step in to fund and organise activities such as
retraining when statutory agencies were bound by the 90-day rule
(ie they could take no action until a redundancy notice had been
served, despite the fact the 90 days would be insufficient to
retrain staff prior to redundancy). Even when the 90-day rule
was waived the Trust still played a significant role. Trust-organised
programmes were successful largely because they recognised the
need for free on-site training, timed to fit around shift patterns.
4.4 Lessons learnt:
In the case of pit closure, an early response
is vital. The Trust's independent charity status and ability to
co-ordinate action across agencies can ensure that "gaps"
in provision are successfully filled. Reskilling programmes can
provide a cost-effective route to alternative work, but a flexible
approach, which takes into account individual circumstances and
mining work culture, is required. In terms of the wider community,
cross-boundary thinking is vital, as the "reach" of
pit closure is likely to extend well beyond the immediate locality.
5 THE TRUST'S
5.1 Current funding arrangements
All three Governments offer the Trust funding
in discrete "Rounds" of differing length:
||Length of current funding round||Amount (£)
||Operational period of current funding round
||April 2002end March 2005|
|Communities Scotland||2 years
||£3.1m||April 2002end March 2004
|Welsh Assembly||3 years
||£4.26m||April 2003end March 2006
Taken across the Trust's whole operation in three countries,
93p out of every pound goes into community support. Overhead
is kept within 10% of total funding.
5.2 Developments in the funding base
In the past 18 months, the Trust has attempted to diversify
its funding base and add-value to its development activities by
appointing an internal fundraising team. This team has succeeded
in drawing down European funding valued at £1.3m, corporate
funding valued at £150k, and funding from other organisations
eg: Football Foundation valued at £470k.
5.3 It is the intention of the Trust to increase influencing
levels on policy and spend by establishing joint venture initiatives
to maximise the use of regeneration resources.
However, currently the Trust has to work on the assumption
that its operations will close at the end of each funding rounda
situation which has a profound impact on planning. In effect,
the Trust is bound to select projects early in each funding round,
to ensure that spend is achieved before deadline, and monitoring
performed in a timely fashion. This means that the majority of
funding must be allocated within the first 18 months of the round,
creating frustration amongst communities, and amongst Trust staff
who must turn down viable applications that are presented later
on. Because funds must be allocated quickly, it is difficult for
the Trust to support "spin-off" projects that arise
out of existing projects once capacity has developed to a sufficient
5.4 The Trust wishes to create stability in being able
to support communities in a consistent manner. This will also
ensure better planning of spend and policy. The Trust is discussing
with the ODPM the possibility of a "rolling programme"
of funding which would mean that at the end of each financial
year, the Trust would know for certain that it has a further 3
years of operation.
5.5 Lessons learnt:
Discrete funding rounds, over short-term periods, limit the
Trust's ability to respond effectively to community needs as they
develop over time.
6.1 Welfare is a cross-cutting theme for the Trust, as
all of its activities are directed towards improving the quality
of life for coalfields communities in some way.
However, particular programmes could be said to relate directly
to this theme. For example:
The Trust funded a special programme through seventy-five
Citizens' Advice Bureaux to provide money/debt advice in coalfields
The Trust upgraded and extended the activities
of miners' welfare organisations, helping them to provide a more
rounded service to the community, often including a "one-stop-shop"
advice service to signpost local people to appropriate welfare
Taking account of the Durham University Analysis of indices
of multiple deprivation, which highlights poor health in mining
communities as a common thread, the Trust has recently extended
its charity objectives in order to assist with certain elements
of mining-related healthcare. The Trust's policy and practice
focuses on two aspects:
Dealing with the legacy of mining-related ill
Under this theme, the Trust invests in programmes to promote
healthy living, fight substance abuse and prevent teenage pregnancy.
However, it also recognises the immeasurable value of family support
programmes which contribute to the relief of household stress.
The policy ethos here, as elsewhere, is to recognise the contribution
of the voluntary and community sector in providing an environment
which can tackle personal health issues.
The Trust provides funding for ancillary projects which impinge
on health, for example, funding community transport schemes to
enable those who are housebound to lead a fuller life.
The Trust is currently working with Partners in the Primary
Care Trusts to investigate the feasibility of an innovative centre
caring for those with severe mining-related illness such as Chronic
Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
The Trust's policy is not to fund projects or initiatives
that should, ordinarily, be funded by statutory provision.
The Trust also recognises that learning can be a daunting
prospect for some people. The voluntary/community sector can
provide a level of informal participation that builds confidence,
and may lead to more formal learning in time.
This being so, activity in education focuses on:
Initiatives to foster lifelong learningparticularly
with young people.
Supplementary activities that help to make statutory
learning more effective. For example funding breakfast clubs or
after-school clubs in deprived areas.
Projects that build life-skills.
Providing assistance to schools in improving the
reading abilities of pupils aged between 11 and 16.
The Trust also recognises the importance of accrediting
learning gained through volunteer work.
With this is mind, it has formed a partnership
with the Regen School to provide community activists in coalfields
areas with workshop-based learning on key issues such as project
sustainability and planning, and mentoring support via a network
of successful coalfields community entrepreneurs.
6.4 Social issues
The Trust recognises that there is a wider definition of
povertyie poverty of opportunity and aspiration operating
in coalfields communities. This understanding underpins funding
decisions, and grants are awarded to groups and projects that
will increase opportunities for those taking part.
7. CREATING EMPLOYMENT
7.1 The Trust has supported Intermediate Labour Market
(ILM) projects as an important tool to tackle long-term unemployment.
In considering applications from ILM projects, the Trust takes
the following into account:
The ILM should genuinely provide a nurturing environment,
as well as learning opportunities.
The project should attempt to address social need,
as well as helping people back into work.
It should generate wealth for the local community.
It should be based on good hard targets (ie it
should tackle thoseex-offenders, long-term unemployed,
those with problem backgroundswho would find it difficult
to get work any other way.
7.2 Lessons learnt:
ILM projects are one example of efficient labour market initiatives
but they should tackle the hard-to-reach to have value and aim
to address social need. Other Transitional Labour Market programmes
can and should also be used preventatively to ensure that long-term
unemployment is minimised (see SKILLSbuilder section on responding
to pit closure).
8. RECLAMATION OF
8.1 The Trust believes that there must be integration
between major physical investment on former colliery sites and
the existing communities. To contribute to achieving this synergy
ensuring that inward investment does lead to opportunities for
local communities, the Trust has joined forces with English Partnerships.
By the end of 2003, the Trust will employ a three person
roving team, funded by English Partnerships, to target areas within
the National Coalfields Programme.
The team will consist of:
a community development worker, who will keep
communities informed, and help them to take an active part in
the regeneration process.
a social enterprise co-ordinator who will help
to develop an enterprise strategy for local people, based around
a jobs and training broker who will forge links
with inward investors and companies involved in regeneration to
translate the "local jobs for local people" ethos into
8.2 Lessons learnt:
The Trust's partnership with English Partnerships will combine
social, economic and physical approaches to regeneration for best
effect, enhancing the work of both agencies. Such joint ventures
to focus on tackling problems collaboratively should be encouraged.
9. ROLES AND
9.1 Recently, the Trust has complemented its grant-making
investments with partnership initiatives, drawing together different
agencies to look at regional and national regeneration problems
in a more holistic way. It has always maintained the importance
of leverage of additional resource and energy and has aimed to
ensure the participation of the community in this process both
in decision-making and in sharing responsibility.
9.2 The Trust is currently undertaking a major planning
process, initially in England. This planning will look at each
region in terms of need and what blend of activity, grant-making,
partnership initiatives and special projects will best support
a total regeneration package. As part of this process, the aim
is to work increasingly alongside other regeneration agencies
to maximise both resource and impact.
9.3 In tandem with the planning activity, the Trust is
embarking on an independent evaluation process. A central focus
of this is to establish better qualitative evaluation methods
to demonstrate the contribution of the activity generated by the
Trust to increased quality of life.
9.4 Lessons learnt:
As a new and emerging organisation the Trust has needed to
ensure that it had the appropriate formal structures in place
to operate in a manner that has given confidence to communities
and funders alike. Working more closely with other partners is
now seen as a priority.
SELBY MINE COMPLEXA CASE-STUDY IN "JOINED-UP"
It is fair to say that when the Task Force was convened to
look at the issues surrounding the Selby mine complex closure,
many questioned why the Trust had been included, and what it could
"bring to the table". In the event, the Trust won recognition
and respect for its contribution under a number of headings.
A different perspective
Rightly or wrongly, there is a historical lack of trust between
agencies and miners. Statutory organisations (for example, Job
Centre Plus) are seen by the workforce as dealing with unemployment
and benefits, rather than routes into employment and financial
support. The Coalfields Regeneration Trust is not viewed in this
waypartly because of its independent charity status, and
partly because many Trustees and some staff share a mining background.
This unique understanding of the workforce culture facilitated
better working relationships with men and union representatives
In addition, the Trust represented the social agenda within
a Task Force dominated by major economic agencies. The result
has been to broaden the agenda of the Task Force, and acknowledge
the important role of the community and voluntary sector in responding
to mine closure.
Real "joined-up" thinking
Inevitably, Task Forces involve high-level people, who can
speak for their organisation, and make decisions. However, what
matters is how those decisions filter down to officer level, as
it is here where joined-up action doesor doesn'toccur.
At Selby the Trust played a linking role, ensuring that the decisions
of the Task Force were delivered on the ground.
By organising Pit-head Information Points, and lobbying for
members of the workforce to be trained as Advice Workers, the
Trust also helped to provide consistent and trusted points of
contact for the workforce.
With its unique focus on coalfields (rather than local authority
boundary areas), the Trust understood that the Selby closure would
affect those communities where mine-workers livednot just
Selby itself. As a result, the Trust has pushed for "cross-boundary"
thinkingarguing that the response to the Selby closure
should be co-ordinated sub-regionally to avoid the man being penalized
by the postcode.
Cutting through "hands-tied" situations
Due to the 90-day rule, statutory bodies could not step in
to provide assistance until a redundancy notice had been served.
This was problematic because miners needed to begin retraining
courses well before this, in order to get the necessary skills/qualifications
prior to redundancy. Due to its independent charity status, the
Trust was able to provide the necessary funding at the time when
it was neededovercoming the "hands tied" difficulties
faced by other agencies.
Breaking down the barriers on training
The Trust's guiding principle is "what works".
At Selby, this involved recognition that college courses are difficult
to fit around shift patterns, and that re-skilling the workforce
would be better accomplished through free training, flexibly delivered
on-site, amongst the peer group. The Trust funded and facilitated
such training, thereby contributing to a higher participation
and success rate than could otherwise have been expected. The
following outlines the barriers that the Trust funding was able
Jobcentreplus training will only support vocational
courses of up to 1 year. Courses which impact, for example, on
community development and local confidence such as youth and community
work programmes are not regarded as vocational.
College provision is often problematic. It is
often geared towards the younger post-16 age group, does not provide
practical experience which employers demand, and does not fit
around shift-work patterns, which prevents regular attendance.
For example, many men would have preferred to have "chipped
away" at a qualification during the 21 months from closure
announcement in July 2002 to the expected closure itself in March
2004. However, there are no courses available leading to a significant
qualification, and including practical experience. What provision
does exist could only be accessed after redundancy.
Developing innovative programmes
The SKILLSbuilder programme has helped Selby miners to re-skill
for the construction industry, where there is a skills shortage.
At a cost of under £4k per participant, this represents good
value for the public pound.
SKILLSbuilder is innovative in two ways:
Participants can enter the programme without having
been long-term unemployed. Most intermediate labour market projects
insist that participants have been unemployed for six months before
joining, which adds to the cost to the public purse, and reduces
effectiveness as participants get out of the habit of work.
It is highly flexible, and geared to the individual's
needs. If a miner only needs a few weeks of retraining before
he can take up work, then that is all he does, and a new participant
takes up the training place. This differs from most college courses,
which have a "minimum" viable attendance level, and
who are often loathe to take on workers who will leave part-way
through a course to take up employment.
REVIEW AND IMPACT, 1999-2002
The recently printed "Review and Impact 1999-2002"
document is submitted as an Annex to our submission. It clearly
sets out the Trust's progress over the last three years, and in
particular, the impact we are making to people's lives. It also
contains details on the outputs achieved over this period against
contracted targets. Members are encouraged to read this short
Achievements against contracted outputs