SCOTLAND’S coal mining communities are still “haunted” by the devastation of the Thatcher years and more needs to be done to boost local economies, according to a report by MPs.

An inquiry set up by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coalfield Communities has warned there are too many poorly paid low-skilled jobs, too many people having to rely on unemployment benefits and the expected “trickle-down” effect from nearby big cities isn’t working.

It highlights shocking statistics which say the average life expectancy in the former coalfields as a whole is a full year less than the national average, and two years less than in London.

In these areas – which stretch from Fife, the Lothians, Ayrshire and Lanarkshire down to South Wales and Kent – there are just 55 employee jobs for every 100 residents of working age, compared to 84 for every 100 in the main regional cities.

The Tory government shut down dozens of coal pits in the early 1980s, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs and mass long-term unemployment.

Then prime minister Margaret Thatcher also tried to crush the power of the unions during a bitter year-long strike which saw violent clashes and arrests.

Last year MSPs voted for legislation to pardon miners who were convicted over strike action, who often not only lost their jobs and redundancy payments but were also blacklisted.

The report from the APPG highlights the former coalfields have a population of 5.7 million, which is more than the whole of Scotland and “too big to ignore”.

It stated: “Significant progress has been made and many of the physical structures and scars of mining have now been removed.

“The miners’ strike of 1984/85 is fading in popular memory, but the consequences of the upheaval caused by pit closures continue to be felt. Put simply, the former coalfields continue to lag behind on a range of social and economic indicators. Fundamental imbalances in labour markets, social mobility and health persist.

“While many other parts of the country have prospered, most coalfield communities are failing to keep up.”

The APPG inquiry began last November and received more than 70 submissions from across England, Scotland and Wales, including from local authorities, the voluntary and community sector, and the Scottish and Welsh Governments.

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Owen Thompson, SNP MP for Midlothian who is vice-chair of the APPG on Coalfield Communities, told the Sunday National: “It is very clear it highlights there has been decades of underinvestment in our coalfields areas and that has never really been addressed.

“We have had the UK Government talking about levelling up, but when it actually came to considering bids in Midlothian they didn’t give anything.

“The report looks at the disparity between the funding that went to the actual areas of coalfields where there is a great need and there is higher than average levels of deprivation, lower-than-average life expectancy, all these issues – yet the very areas you think should be at the forefront of levelling up didn’t get a look in most cases.”

One issue highlighted in the report is concerns that former miners are being “short-changed” when it comes to surpluses from the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme, which was privatised in 1994.

Under current arrangements, the Treasury is entitled to 50% of surpluses – which has added up to billions of pounds - in exchange for “the modest risk” of underwriting the scheme.

Thompson said: “Half goes to the government for no apparent reason other than to fill the government coffers.

“So there is a lot of help and support that could be there for former miners that they are just not getting and it wouldn’t actually cost the government, they just need to give them an entitlement to all of the pension funds they are already part of.”

He said the decisions Thatcher took in the 1980s still “haunt” coal mining communities today.

“People felt that directly and personally – there is still that legacy hanging over our communities that until we see action to address the inequalities that she created I don’t think there will be any chance of those feelings going away,” he added.

Thompson said there were also lessons to be learned for the future from what happened to the coal mining communities.

Last month, trade union Unite told Keir Starmer that any plan by Labour to block new North Sea oil and gas developments must not leave workers “paying the price”, with warnings such a move could risk a “repeat of the devastation” caused by the closure of coal mines.

“[The SNP] have been very strongly arguing we need to move away from oil and gas but it has to be a just transition with the necessary support and alternative employment opportunities there to get the benefit of the skills that are in that industry and move them to other areas,” Thompson said.

“That is what didn’t happen with the miners – those amazing skills in those who worked down the mines were just lost because that support in transition wasn’t there.”

The UK Government did not respond to a request for comment on the APPG report.