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Workers earn £5,000 less in UK seaside towns — and their wages are falling

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
Sunbathers shelter under beach umbrellas on the seafront in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, as Britain has basked in the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures expected to soar as the heatwave continues into next week.
Seaside towns have lower-than-average earnings. Photo: PA

Workers in Britain’s seaside towns earn almost £5,000 less than in other areas of the UK, with wages falling despite increases elsewhere, according to research by a think tank.

A study shows the local economies of more than 30 coastal towns are still smaller than just after the financial crisis a decade ago, with many of them Leave-voting areas seen by some as “left behind.”

The Social Market Foundation (SMF) is calling for new prime minister Boris Johnson to fulfil his pledge to help such “forgotten” areas with a special package of support.

The research also highlights a growing “death gap” between such places and the rest of the UK, with average life expectancy lower in coastal areas.

READ MORE: The UK town where men would work until they die if the state pension age hits 75

The new SMF analysis said there was no significant difference in life expectancy in the early 2000s between seaside towns and other areas.

Men born today in coastal communities “can now expect to live half a year less than those in other parts of the country,” according to its latest report.

Male life expectancy rates at birth in the UK in recent decades. Photo: ONS
Male life expectancy rates at birth in the UK in recent decades. Photo: ONS

Yahoo Finance UK reported earlier on Thursday how life expectancy in the iconic seaside town of Blackpool is among the lowest in Britain, at 74 for men and 79 for women.

Some districts within Blackpool have average male life expectancy of just 66, with high rates of drug abuse, alcoholism, and depression particularly among people who have moved to the town.

Separate research shows six of the 10 local authority districts with the highest death rates from heroin or morphine misuse include coastal areas.

READ MORE: UK wages rising at fastest rate since financial crisis

The SMF study indicates pay levels fell in coastal areas between 2017 and 2018, whereas they increased in most of the rest of the country.

The average salary in coastal areas was £25,900 in 2018, compared to £30,600 in non-coastal areas.

The think tank found a strong correlation between coastal areas that had seen their economies shrink over the past decade and the Brexit vote. Twenty-four of the 32 affected seaside areas across the country voted to leave the EU in the referendum in 2016.

It said traditional industries like tourism and fishing were struggling in some areas, and not being replaced with newer, higher-paid jobs.

The SMF proposed tax breaks for firms in higher-paying industries to operate in coastal areas, as well as new “powerhouse” devolution deals to give local politicians more power.

“Coastal areas are sadly falling further behind the rest of the country. That means people there are poorer and even die younger than people elsewhere in the UK. Gaps like that are unfair and should be addressed,” Scott Corfe, SMF research director and the report’s author, said.