Book News: November 20th, 2008

This report from Communities and Local Government presents a statistical picture of seaside towns. It has been prepared following a Select Committee inquiry and will be used for policy development.

The principal seaside resorts have a combined population of just under 2.9 million, or nearly 6 per cent of England’s population, which is as much as a small region. Their population is growing, but in recent years more slowly than in England as a whole.

The share of the population over state pension age is markedly above the English average, at 24 per cent compared to 19 per cent. The employment rate is below the English average, at 72 per cent compared to 74 per cent, but there are big variations between individual seaside towns.

Skill levels and achievement at school are slightly below average, but again there are variations between towns. The share of adults of working age claiming the three main benefits for the non-employed is above the average of 13.3 per cent compared to 11.2 per cent in England as a whole. Incapacity benefit claimants are by far the largest group of non-employed working age benefit claimants in England’s principal seaside towns.

There is still seasonal unemployment in seaside towns, but on average the claimant unemployment rate across the towns varies by only 0.5 percentage points between summer and winter. Average earnings for both males and females in the districts containing seaside towns are often substantially below the English average.

The ‘economic’ data suggests that Bognor Regis, Exmouth, Greater Bournemouth, Greater Brighton, Greater Worthing, Sidmouth, Southport, Swanage, Whitley Bay and Whitstable/Herne Bay have the stronger local economies among seaside towns.

The same data suggests that Bridlington, Clacton, Great Yarmouth, Ilfracombe, Lowestoft, Morecambe/Heysham, Penzance, Skegness, Thanet, Torbay and Whitby have the weaker local economies among seaside towns.

The report is available from DCLG.