A new BBC Breakfast report has painted a worrying picture of relative deprivation among coastal towns around the UK.
‘The UK’s coastal communities are among the country’s worst off for earnings, employment, health and education,’ starts this piece on BBC News.
‘The Social Market Foundation said the economic gap between coastal and non-coastal places has grown.’
And this accounts for coastal towns across the country.
‘Average wages are £3,600 a year lower in these “pockets of deprivation”, according to the think tank’, says the BBC.
Is your small business based in a coastal town? If so, might yours and other, similar enterprises play a part in boosting the local economy?
The BBC News story opens with a video report highlighting the port of Ardrossan in Ayrshire, described by one local, in its heyday, as ‘such a vibrant, lively place’. Not so much today.
Help is badly needed.
Here are some of the report’s findings:
• 5 of the 10 local authorities with the highest unemployment for the 3 months to March 2017 were coastal
• ‘These were Hartlepool, North Ayrshire, Torridge, Hastings, South Tyneside and Sunderland’
• Those in work in coastal towns are paid less than their counterparts elsewhere: ‘Of the 98 local authorities on the coast, 85% had pay levels below the UK’s average in 2016’
It’s a difficult picture – and health and education concerns run in parallel.
But most analyses overlook these towns’ special status – as coastal communities, defined by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) as local authorities with a coastal border.
The Foundation is calling on the Government ‘to do more to track – and address –’ the problems particular to these communities.
‘The SMF warned that some areas – particularly in the South East – “are pockets of significant deprivation surrounded by affluence – meaning their problems are often overlooked by policymakers”.’
Potential good news is that ‘the minister for coastal communities has announced £40m in funding to help coastal areas’, says the piece.
This is the latest tranche from the Coastal Communities Fund, set up in 2012 to help.
It has ‘so far provided £170m for 278 projects across the UK in five rounds of funding’, according to BBC News.
Projects that have benefited include Blackpool’s Winter Gardens – with its new conference centre – and Southport pier.
‘From the world-renowned Blackpool illuminations to Brighton’s i360, our coastal towns and cities have a lot to offer all year round’, the BBC quotes Coastal Communities Minister, Jake Berry.