Some of Britain’s best known coastal towns have been caught in cycles of poverty following decades of decline, a new Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) report has said.
Turning the Tide highlights how former tourist hotspots have been hit by high rates of unemployment, family instability and poor housing.
The report praises efforts by local groups, politicians and campaigners to turn things around, but says efforts to revive some of these areas must be rekindled to prevent people being left behind.
The CSJ revealed that Britain is spending almost £2 billion a year on welfare payments to people of working age who live in the country’s principal seaside towns. The report looked at five case studies – Blackpool, Margate, Clacton-on-Sea, Great Yarmouth and Rhyl.
The CSJ heard in evidence that some councils in high cost areas take advantage of cheap accommodation in seaside towns and use them to place vulnerable people.
CSJ Policy Director Alex Burghart said: “This has caused some areas to become dumping grounds for people with complex needs and intensifies pressure on schools, social workers and other services.”
In one part of Rhyl, more than two thirds of working-age people are dependent on out-of-work benefits and, according to a recent Ofsted report, coastal towns are among the most educationally deprived in the whole country. Some 41 per cent of adults in Clacton have no qualifications, almost double the national average for England and Wales.
The CSJ recommends a number of measures, including improving skills in seaside towns and considering the devolution of additional powers to local levels so that they can invest in more proactive services and take greater control of social issues.