Devon and Cornwall's resorts among most deprived
Some of the Westcountry's seaside resorts are among the most deprived places in the country, official figures have revealed.
A report from the Office for National Statistics lays bare the crisis facing coastal economies as the Government today unveils a fresh round of cash to reverse "decline and neglect".
The ONS looked at England's 57 biggest seaside resorts, based on the size of population. To be included in the list, the resort must have a resident population of at least 15,000. It found Torquay and Paignton in Devon, Newquay and Falmouth in Cornwall, Weymouth in Dorset and Weston-super-Mare in Somerset to be more deprived than the rest of England typically is.
However, towns that were ranked better off than the national average included Teignmouth and Exmouth in Devon, Burnham-on-Sea and Clevedon in Somerset, and Poole and Christchurch in Dorset.
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Many popular seaside resorts, such as the Prime Minister's current holiday destination, Polzeath in North Cornwall, and other idyllic South West resorts, were not included due to their small resident population.
Skegness and Ingoldmells, home to the first Butlins holiday camp in 1936, is the most deprived resort.
The ONS report was based on an assessment of key measures of deprivation such as higher unemployment, lower incomes, poor health and more crime.
A report by the right-leaning Centre for Social Justice recently argued once-thriving resorts had become heavily populated by welfare claimants and patients leaving the care system, while also being undermined by cheap foreign travel.
But Westcountry coastal communities are attempting revival and diversification. Newquay is hoping to create 2,500 jobs at the nearby "aerohub", a Government-sanctioned enterprise zone, which has already attracted big names including helicopter giant AgustaWestland.
Stephen Gilbert, Liberal Democrat MP for St Austell and Newquay, said: "There's no doubt that the trend for holidaying abroad rather than at home has presented a challenge for many seaside towns, but the welcome recent resurgence of 'staycations' has brought a much-needed boost to the tourism sector.
"As well as doing more to protect and promote the exciting opportunities for visitors to seaside towns, like surfing, we need to ensure year-round quality jobs are brought back to these communities and the Newquay Enterprise Zone will undoubtedly help with that in Cornwall."
Meanwhile, the Government today announces that the third round of its Coastal Communities Fund will award £22 million in grants to projects to create jobs on the coast after extending the programme to 2016.
Coastal poverty: Most deprived coastal towns
1 Skegness and Ingoldmells
9 Great Yarmouth
10 South Shields
37 Herne Bay
38 Hayling Island
44 Bognor Regis
50 Shoreham by sea
53 Lytham St Annes
56 Whitley Bay