UK

Seaside Resorts Are 'Dumping Ground' For Vulnerable People, Report Warns

05/08/2013 08:36 BST | Updated 05/08/2013 08:37 BST

Britain's once-proud seaside resorts have become 'dumping grounds' for hard-up people and benefit claimants, according to an influential think thank.

The Centre for Social Justice, founded by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, said former hotels were now used as cheap housing for vulnerable people in towns suffering from 'severe social breakdown'.

Towns like Blackpool and Margate were tourism hotspots in their heyday but as visitor numbers have dried up they are now racked with deprivation.

seaside resorts

Margate has one of the highest shop vacancy rates

Four of the UK's top 10 hotspots for teenage pregnancies are by the sea, the report says, while Blackpool has the highest rate of children in care in England.

The CSJ said councils in wealthy areas were using coastal towns as a low-cost option for placing vulnerable people.

The report found that Britain is spending almost £2 billion a year on welfare payments to people of working age in seaside towns.

With holiday-makers deserting British beach resorts in favour of overseas breaks, some seaside towns are suffering "severe social breakdown", with levels of school failure, teenage pregnancy, lone parenting, and worklessness to rival the inner-city areas which have previously been seen as the benchmark for deprivation.

Of the 20 neighbourhoods across the UK with the highest levels of out-of-work benefits, seven are in coastal towns that once attracted millions of holiday-makers, said the CSJ report.

The report, entitled Turning the Tide, called for action to revive the fortunes of seaside towns like Rhyl in North Wales,

Margate in Kent, Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, Great Yarmouth in Norfolk and Blackpool in Lancashire.

In one part of Rhyl, two-thirds of working-age people are dependent on out-of-work benefits, while 41% of adults in Clacton have no qualifications, said the report.

Of the 10 wards in England and Wales with the highest rates of teenage pregnancy, four are in seaside towns - the highest rate is in Great Yarmouth - said the report. In some neighbourhoods, more than 40% of families with children are fatherless.

The report said: "Whilst each town has its own particular problems, a recurring theme has been that of poverty attracting poverty. As employment has dried up, so house prices have fallen and so less economically-active people - such as single-parent families and pensioners - have moved in, seeking cheaper accommodation and living costs.

"Similarly, vulnerable people - such as children in care and ex-offenders - have been moved in as authorities take advantage of low-cost housing as large properties have been chopped into HMOs. Many parts of these towns have become dumping grounds, further depressing the desirability of such areas and so perpetuating the cycle."

CSJ director Christian Guy said: "Living standards in some of the UK's best-known coastal towns have declined beyond recognition and locals are now bearing the brunt of severe levels of social breakdown.

"We have found inspiring local people, services and charities working hard to turn things around, but they are

struggling to do this alone.

"Some of these areas have been left behind. We must ramp up efforts to revive Britain's coastal towns, not just for visitors but for the people who live there."