Coastal communities report highlights Hartlepool’s high health and unemployment problems

Job Centre Plus. Picture by FRANK REID
Job Centre Plus. Picture by FRANK REID

A new report has highlighted Hartlepool’s health and employment inequalities said to be a feature of many seaside towns.

Analysis by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank found some of the worst levels of economic and social deprivation in the country at communities by the coast.

Hartlepool's attractions mask areas of deprivation and ill health

Hartlepool's attractions mask areas of deprivation and ill health

The report commissioned by BBC Breakfast found that Hartlepool was one of ten local authority areas with the highest unemployment rates in the first quarter of 2017.

The town is also in the top 20 local authorities in Britain for the unemployment rate among 16 to 64-year-olds in 12 months to March 2017 at Hartlepool 11%.

And Hartlepool is also in the top 20 local authorities in England and Wales for the percentage of the population in bad or very bad health at 8.1%.

Scott Corfe, SMF’s chief economist and author of the report, said poor infrastructure was contributing to the growing disparity between seaside towns and their inland counterparts.

He said: “Many coastal communities are poorly connected to major employment centres in the UK, which compounds the difficulties faced by residents in these areas.

“Not only do they lack local job opportunities, but travelling elsewhere for work is also relatively difficult.

“Despite the evident social and economic problems which these places face, there is currently no official definition of a ‘coastal community’.

“The Government needs to do more to track and address economic problems in our coastal towns.”

The Government has pledged to give £40 million to coastal areas in a bid to boost employment and encourage tourism, but researchers warn some communities were being overlooked by policy makers in favour of more affluent towns.

The report found people are paid about £3,600 less the national average in 85% of Britain’s 98 coastal local authorities.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, Hartlepool’s director of public health, referred to the report during presentations to the Hartlepool Health and Wellbeing Board yesterday.

But in presenting his annual report which focuses largely on supporting Hartlepool’s increasing older population, he said he wanted to focus on the positive work being done, including by the community and voluntary sector.