Seaside towns like Blackpool have become “dumping grounds” for vulnerable people, a report warned today.
Former hotels converted into cheap flats have attracted people on low incomes and welfare claimants, and are also used by councils in wealthier areas as a low-cost option for placing vulnerable people, like children in care, said the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) thinktank.
The report found Britain is spending almost £2bn a year on welfare payments to people of working age in seaside towns.
The report, entitled Turning the Tide, called for action to revive the fortunes of seaside towns including Blackpool, Rhyl in North Wales, Margate in Kent, Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, and Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.
It found Blackpool Council has the highest rate of children in care in the whole of England - 150 per 10,000 population - far exceeding the English average of 59.
The report said: “Whilst each town has its own particular problems, a recurring theme has been that of poverty attracting poverty.”
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.”
The CSJ recommended measures to improve skills in seaside towns and devolve greater powers to local level.
Blackpool Council has introduced measures including a selective licensing scheme for landlords in South Shore, and toughter planning controls, in a bid to stop failed hotels being used as cheap accommodation.
The Queens Park estate in Layton is also set to be redeveloped as family homes in order to help re-balance the housing offer.