‘Nation’s coastal communities falling behind’

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Britain’s coastal communities are falling behind the rest of the country when it comes to employment, wages, health and education, a new report warns.

Analysis of economic and social data by the Social Market Foundation think tank, published today, reveals that nine of the 20 councils with the lowest average employee pay are in coastal areas, including Scarborough, with an average salary of £19,925.

Last year, the pay was around £3,600 per year lower in coastal communities than in other parts of Great Britain, according to the report.

The data also revealed that five of the 10 local authorities in the country with the highest unemployment rate were coastal areas for the three months to March 2017, including Sunderland.

And 10 of the 20 councils with the highest number of residents with health problems are also located on the coast, including Blackpool.

It also emerged that the two local authorities with the smallest proportion of people over the age of 16 holding level four and above qualifications, such as higher apprenticeships and degrees, are Great Yarmouth and Castle Point - both coastal areas.

The think tank says the economic gap between coastal and non-coastal communities has grown, with the economic output (gross value added) per head increasing from 23 per cent in 1997 to 26 per cent by 2015.

The report’s author, Social Market Foundation chief economist Scott Corfe, said: “The economies of many coastal towns have performed poorly relative to the rest of the country, with a lack of well-paid job opportunities for people in these areas.

“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.”

The Yorkshire Post revealed last week that the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund, set up to help in generate jobs and improve businesses prospects in seaside towns, is now pumping another £257,000 into the North York Moors National Park as part of its two-year “moor to sea” programme.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has said that the fund has created more than 3,000 jobs nationally, 6,800 apprenticeship places and safeguarded 864 roles.