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Coastal deprivation report by Social Market Foundation - Dover MP Charlie Elphicke speaks out

Not enough help is being given to communities in Dover compared with big cities.

That’s the verdict of MP Charlie Elphicke commenting on a report saying seaside towns are among the most deprived areas nationwide.

Dover is near the bottom of the table for economic growth, the researchers have found.

Dover: Report says it has its share of coastal deprivation
Dover: Report says it has its share of coastal deprivation

Mr Elphicke, who represents Dover and Deal, said: “This report raises a vital issue of our times – how we must invest more in the historic towns and regions across the whole of our nation.

“For too long, Britain has worked for London and the big cities, rather than communities like Dover.

“We’ve worked tirelessly to secure £500 million of investment for Dover and Deal since 2010.”

He highlighted progress such as the St James’ retail and leisure development.

Latest official figures have also shown average earnings in Dover and Deal rose 10% in a year.

But Mr Elphicke said: “Everyone knows that in our corner of Kent, we always have to fight twice as hard. That needs to change.

“We need to do more to boost Britain’s regions and coastal communities. Bringing back duty-free sales on travel to Europe after Brexit would help.

MP Charlie Elphicke
MP Charlie Elphicke

The report by the charity the Social Market Foundation says the UK’s coastal communities are among the country’s worst off for earnings, employment, health and education.

It says the economic gap between coastal and inland areas has grown, with average earnings £3,600 lower in seaside communities.

Dover is spotlighted as one of the eighth worst coastal communities in terms of growth per capita between 1997 and 2015.

The figure for this area was 43.6% against 78.1% for Britain as a whole.

The Clarendon and Westbury neighbourhood in the foreground. Among Dover's poorer areas
The Clarendon and Westbury neighbourhood in the foreground. Among Dover's poorer areas

The report, produced for the BBC, is called Living on the Edge: Britain’s Coastal Communities.

It also found that five of the 10 local authorities in the UK with the highest unemployment rate in the three months to last March were coastal, the nearest being Hastings.

Of the 98 council areas on the coast, 85% had pay levels below the UK’s average from 2016.

Meanwhile, 10 of the 20 council areas in England Wales with the highest proportion of people in bad health are coastal.

The report’s author, SMF chief economist Scott Corfe, said a lack of local job opportunities and poor transport links contributed to badly performing economies.

The SMF warned that some areas, particularly in the South East, “are pockets of significant deprivation surrounded by affluence – meaning their problems are often overlooked by policymakers”.

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