Poverty in coastal communities getting worse, study finds

Think tank finds growing inequality between seaside towns and inland areas across the UK

Urban housing problems, inequality and crime in some of Britain’s biggest cities tend to gain a fair amount of press and attention from policy-makers.

But often-forgotten seaside towns are home to some of the very poorest communities in the UK, a new report has revealed.

Research by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) has found a growing economic gap between communities on the coast and the rest of the country.

The experts at the think tank identified “pockets of significant deprivation” in desperate need of investment and fresh opportunities.

Of the country’s 98 coastal council areas, 85% of them showed people earning below the national average, with wages in coastal areas around £3,600 a year lower than the national average.

Five of the top 10 council areas with the worst rates of unemployment – Hartlepool, North Ayrshire, Torridge, Hastings, South Tyneside and Sunderland – were found on the coast.

Likewise, five of the top 10 council areas for low pay – Torbay, North Devon, Gwynedd, Hastings and Torridge – were coastal.

Health outcomes and qualification levels among young people also showed seaside towns lagging behind inland areas.

The government needs to do more to track – and address – economic problems in our coastal towns

“Many coastal communities are poorly connected to major employment centres in the UK, which compounds the difficulties faced by residents in these areas,” Scott Corfe, chief economist at the SMF.

“Not only do they lack local job opportunities, but travelling elsewhere for work is also relatively difficult,” added Corfe.

“The government needs to do more to track – and address – economic problems in our coastal towns.”

The government today announced that it would provide £40 million for the Coastal Communities Fund.

Preferring to emphasis the positives in tourist-orientated towns and seaside resorts, the Coastal Communities Minister Jake Berry said the latest round of funding “will help attract even more visitors to the great British coast so that our coastal communities can thrive.”

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