Coastal areas score highly in the Government’s deprivation index, with many of the poorest lining the coast in the North East, East and South West of England. Henry Overman, professor of economic geography at the London School of Economics, explains the decline is then worsened by a brain drain.
“The structural shift started them off on the downward spiral,” he explains. “If you are a struggling seaside town you are not a very attractive place to the higher educated and more able people that grow up there and they tend to move away.”
Economic output per capita was 26pc lower in coastal communities in 2015, a gap that has widened in recent decades, according to a report by the Social Market Foundation.
Coastal communities still hope they can turn the tide as the levelling up agenda takes centre stage in Westminster. Many of the “red wall” seats that helped Boris Johnson romp home in December’s election were won in struggling coastal areas, including Blyth Valley, Great Grimsby and Eastbourne.
“For too long, successive governments have focused on regeneration in the larger urban areas at the expense of coastal communities,” says Mike Hill, Labour MP and chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on coastal communities.
“I am very positive and upbeat about the revival of our coastal communities because we are an island and they provide unique opportunities. It’s imperative that the Government gets to grips with the obvious and unfair steady decline of our coastal community.”