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Living on the edge: Britain’s coastal communities

Economic and social deprivation in seaside communities has been much talked about in recent years. There has been a widespread belief that the economies of 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 point to structural, long-standing economic and social problems following the decline of domestic tourism in the UK.

Some also point to the fact that 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.

Much of the discussion around coastal towns has, however, been anecdotal rather than grounded in facts and figures. This partly reflects the fact that there is no official definition of a “coastal community” or “seaside resort”, and as such there is little collated data on this.

The SMF has undertaken a brief analysis of economic and social data at a local authority level, to better understand the extent to which coastal communities are among the worst ranked parts of the country in terms of earnings, employment, health and education.

We define a coastal community as a local authority with coastal borders.

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