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Efforts to revive UK’s declining seaside towns should be ramped up, CSJ report says

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 findings received widespread coverage by regional and national broadcast media, including: BBC NewsITV, Sky News, BBC Radio 4's Today and BBC 5 Live Breakfast

It also received major print coverage in the Telegraph, Times, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Independent, Daily Star, Guardian and Huffington Post.

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.

CSJ announces events programme for party conferences

The CSJ is bringing together leading politicians and commentators for what promises to be an exciting party conference events programme.

The series will explore some of Britain’s most pressing policy issues such as economic recovery, poverty, employment and the tragedy of modern slavery.

At the Conservative conference in Manchester, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith MP, CSJ founder and Patron, will be interviewed by Spectator editor Fraser Nelson. Former Labour Health Secretary Alan Milburn, Chair of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, will discuss child poverty and what needs to be done to tackle it. Employment Minister Mark Hoban MP, Housing Minister Mark Prisk MP, and Civil Society Minister Nick Hurd MP are among other speakers at the CSJ’s wide-ranging events. Full listings for Conservative conference are available here.

At the Labour conference in Brighton, party manifesto supremo Jon Cruddas MP will be interviewed about poverty and policy by CSJ Director Christian Guy. Former Government Minister David Lammy MP will discuss resettlement for people recovering from addiction and Frank Field MP will discuss the fight against modern slavery in the UK. The CSJ will also host an evening with Lord Maurice Glasman. Read our full listing for Labour conference here.

At the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow, Pensions Minister Steve Webb MP will discuss how Britain should provide for its older citizens and Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb MP will talk about transforming mental health recovery outcomes for black and minority ethnic communities. Details are available here.

Voluntary sector key to probation reforms, Chris Grayling tells CSJ event

Charities will be crucial in delivering a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ in England and Wales, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling told an event hosted by the CSJ.

The Secretary of State said contracts to deliver an overhaul of probation services should go to a “broad range of suppliers” and not just the lowest bidders.

It follows a speech he gave to the CSJ last year, where he outlined how responsibility for low and medium-risk offenders would be transferred to the voluntary and private sectors under a payment-by-results model.

More than 100 people attended the event, many of them members of the CSJ Alliance, and discussed how they could play a greater role.

The CSJ is currently working on a short research piece on the role of the voluntary sector in delivering probation services, which will be published later this year.