Seaside towns among most deprived communities in UK | Inequality

Coastal communities are lagging behind inland areas, with some of the worst levels of economic and social deprivation in the UK, a report shows.

Comparison of earnings, employment, health and education data in local authority areas identified “pockets of significant deprivation” in seaside towns and a widening gap between coastal communities and the rest of the country.

The government has pledged to give £40m to coastal areas in an attempt to boost employment and encourage tourism. However, researchers said some communities were being overlooked by policymakers, who were preoccupied with more affluent centres.

Analysis by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) thinktank found that in 85% of Britain’s 98 coastal local authorities, people earned below the national average for 2016, with employees in seaside communities paid about £3,600 less.

The report commissioned by BBC Breakfast also found:

Torbay, North Devon, Gwynedd, Hastings and Torridge made up five of the 10 local authorities in Great Britain where people earned the lowest average pay.

Hartlepool, North Ayrshire, Torridge, Hastings, South Tyneside and Sunderland made up five of the 10 local authorities in Great Britain with the highest unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2017.

Neath Port Talbot, Blackpool, Bridgend, Sunderland, Barrow-in-Furness, Carmarthenshire, East Lindsey, South Tyneside, County Durham and Hartlepool made up half of the 20 local authorities in England and Wales with the highest proportion of individuals in poor health.

Great Yarmouth and Castle Point were the two local authorities in England and Wales with the smallest proportion of over-16-year-olds who had level four and above qualifications, such as higher apprenticeships and degrees.

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that in 1997 economic output per person was 23% lower in coastal communities than non-coastal communities, while in 2015 the gap had widened to 26%.

Scott Corfe, SMF’s chief economist and author of the report, said poor infrastructure was contributing to the growing disparity between seaside towns and their inland counterparts.

“Many coastal communities are poorly connected to major employment centres in the UK, which compounds the difficulties faced by residents in these areas. Not only do they lack local job opportunities, but travelling elsewhere for work is also relatively difficult.

“Despite the evident social and economic problems which these places face, there is currently no official definition of a ‘coastal community’. The government needs to do more to track – and address – economic problems in our coastal towns.

“Particularly in the south-east, some coastal communities are pockets of significant deprivation surrounded by affluence – meaning their problems are often overlooked by policymakers.”

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