Housing issue vital in bid to beat poverty

Queens Park, flats, Layton, Blackpool.
Queens Park, flats, Layton, Blackpool.
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Tackling housing issues is critical if Blackpool is to get more residents out of the poverty trap, town hall chiefs said today.

In response to a national report which warned seaside towns are becoming “dumping grounds” for vulnerable people, Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said initiatives were already underway to redress the balance.

But he admitted the report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) was “not a surprise.”

Coun Blackburn said: “At the moment if you turn up in Blackpool with £50 cash and a bin bag full of possessions you are able to find somewhere to live.

“This is a situation we want to change but it will not happen overnight.”

He said initiatives to build more family housing would help address the imbalance.

Coun Blackburn added: “At Queens Park we are demolishing one bedroom units to make way for family accommodation and at South Beach the selective licensing scheme is doing vital work driving up standards of the private rented sector.”

The CSJ found almost £2bn a year is spent on welfare payments to people of working age in once flourishing seaside towns.

It looked at five resorts, including Blackpool, and highlighted cheap accommodation created by over abundant holiday accommodation as being a magnet for inward migration.

But on arrival, there were not the jobs to sustain people leading to a cycle of poverty.

The report said: “Many parts of these towns have become dumping grounds, further depressing the desirability of such areas and so perpetuating the cycle.”

Resort has highest rate of children in care

Family breakdown is at the heart of Blackpool’s social problems, the report warned.

The Turning The Tide research found one in three families in the resort is headed by a single parent.

The council has the highest rate of children in care - 150 per 10,000 population, compared to an average of 59 for the rest of England.

In some areas of the town, more than 40 per cent of all working-age people are on out-of-work benefits.

More than 14 per cent of working-age people have no educational qualifications, it said.

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