Far from the images of traditional family holidays, Britain’s coastal towns are, according to the Centre for Social Justice, becoming the ‘dumping grounds’ for ‘the poor and vulnerable’, fueling the poverty cycle and costing the British Government £2 billion a year in social benefit payments to working age adults.
John Hall’s article in The Independent reports on the Centre’s recent publication, "Turning the Tide", that details how seven of the twenty council areas with the highest welfare bills are once thriving holiday towns. The report claims that wealthier locations are ‘dumping’ their problem cases, including children in care and ex-offenders, in nearby coastal towns as this is often cheaper than accommodating them in their own precinct. This has led, for example, to the number of children in care in such towns to rise to three times the national average.
As more affluent residents move out, those on lower incomes move in, attracted by lower housing and living costs. Hall notes that dwindling employment options and increasing poverty has resulting in “'severe social breakdown', with high levels of school failure, teenage pregnancy, lone parenting, and worklessness”.
The article highlights the Essex town of Clacton-on-Sea, where over forty per cent of adults hold no formal qualifications, the north Welsh town of Rhyl where two thirds rely on financial support from the government, and Great Yarmouth which holds the record for the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the country.
The report calls for government assistance in reversing the decline of well-known locations including Blackpool, Margate, Clacton-on-Sea, Great Yarmouth and Rhyl, the report’s five case studies. Christian Guy, Director of the Centre for Social Justice, remarked that they had “found inspiring local people, services and charities working hard to turn things around, but they are struggling to do this alone. We must ramp up efforts to revive Britain's coastal towns, not just for visitors but for the people who live there.”