The future of seaside towns: Follow-up report Contents

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

Below is a list of all of the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations (recommendations appear in italics).

Coastal communities policy and coordination

1.The Committee believes greater coordination and recognition is needed for seaside towns and communities. The Committee recommends that the Government allocates responsibility for seaside towns and communities to a Ministerial portfolio in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. This will create a point of reference for local areas and key stakeholders, and demonstrate the importance of these areas in achieving the levelling up agenda. (Paragraph 25)

2.The Minister with this portfolio should attend all meetings of the interministerial Group on Levelling Up to ensure that a coastal lens can be applied to the topics discussed. (Paragraph 26)

3.The Committee has heard again about the distinctive set of challenges faced by coastal communities. The Government should work with the Local Government Association, coastal interest groups, the private sector, the third sector and other key stakeholders to develop a coastal communities strategy in order to demonstrate clear mechanisms to successfully address the long-standing disparities faced by seaside towns and communities. A draft strategy should be put to the House of Commons Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee to ensure effective scrutiny of the strategy ahead of implementation. This work should be started as a matter of urgency to ensure that disparities do not become further entrenched. (Paragraph 27)

Support for regeneration—leadership

4.The Committee recognises the complexity of the challenge faced in integrating LEPs into local democratic institutions and welcomes the further consultation being carried out to ensure future integration and funding changes can be managed effectively. We encourage the Government to respond promptly to the findings to give clarity for both LEPs and local authorities. The work achieved by LEPs and the ongoing work they are part of must not be lost as the transition takes place. (Paragraph 36)

5.The Committee believes the relationship between local authorities and the private sector is integral to the regeneration of seaside towns and communities and we urge the Government to ensure that this is not lost as local authorities begin to undertake the functions of LEPs. The private sector must be kept informed by local democratic institutions what form these new integrated responsibilities will take so they have a clear understanding of how to maintain their involvement in the development of local communities. The new structures integrating LEP responsibilities must facilitate frank and open input from local businesses. (Paragraph 37)

6.The Committee continues to believe that any structures responsible for the leadership of the development and economic growth of areas with a coastal aspect should ensure there is an emphasis on addressing the needs of coastal communities. Coastal communities and their needs and priorities must not be lost amid broader local authority economic agendas, both national and local. (Paragraph 38)

7.The need for collaboration and information sharing across areas which face similar challenges, such as seaside towns and communities, remains essential. The Government should consider how the valuable work of networks can be built into the planned integration of LEPs into local authorities. The Government must consult the Local Government Association and interested parties to consider how information sharing and a collective voice can be created for this new integrated structure. (Paragraph 39)

8.The Committee welcomes steps to grant greater powers to local areas to enable greater place-based decision making. It remains essential that coastal towns and communities are not lost amongst the challenges and competing concerns that local authorities face, so future deals and local authority arrangements should reflect the needs of seaside towns and communities in their remit and appropriate geographical area. (Paragraph 48)

Support for regeneration—funding and delivery

9.The Committee supports the Government’s decision to review the current funding landscape in light of the universal feedback regarding the cost and complexity involved in accessing the currently available funds. The decision to move to a more formula-based approach should ensure areas of greatest need, including seaside towns and communities, receive the funding they require. We recommend the Government consult on the current formula used to determine the areas of most need under the UKSPF to help inform any changes needed to the future formula-based funding stream. We urge the Government to publish its new funding plan as soon as possible. (Paragraph 85)

10.Future funding streams should ensure that seaside towns and communities receive the additional support they need and recognition of the increased costs involved in supporting these communities. (Paragraph 86)

11.Seaside towns and communities face a combination of deeply entrenched issues. To address these successfully, and make meaningful and sustained improvements, requires long-term consistent commitment, not a succession of short-term initiatives. The Government must find a way to provide the long-term funding that seaside towns and communities need to support effective regeneration and address systemic challenges. (Paragraph 87)

12.We recommend that the Government reviews the local government funding formula to assess its effectiveness in providing the level of support needed in coastal towns and communities. (Paragraph 90)

13.The Government should ensure that effective work is carried out to ensure that the funding streams made available are marketed to encourage private sector industry investment to match or contribute. More needs to be done to ensure that public funding streams are used to lever private investment in coastal areas to enable regeneration to take place. (Paragraph 94)

14.The Committee welcomes the announcement of Levelling Up Partnerships and is encouraged by the Government’s approach of working closely with local areas to ensure tailored approaches to tackle key concerns for those areas. The Government should ensure there is an assessment of what worked in pilot areas and to learn from this for future Levelling Up Partnerships. The Government must also establish effective mechanisms to share experiences and best practice from Levelling Up Partnerships with other local authorities facing similar challenges, such as other seaside towns and communities. We understand Levelling Up Partnerships cannot take place in every location across the UK, but it is essential that lessons learned are shared in order to assist in bringing about effective change across the country. We recommend that the Government publish its mechanisms to share best practice before the end of the year so local authorities know how this will be accessed. (Paragraph 103)

15.The Government must evaluate the effectiveness of these Partnerships to identify what works best and consider what schemes or approaches could best be used in future to assist more areas. (Paragraph 104)


16.Poor transport connectivity continues to blight seaside towns and communities, and sufficient progress has not been made to address this. The Committee recognises the efforts made in subsidies and funding streams. However the Government needs to go further to tackle systemic connectivity issues. The fundamental problem has not changed since 2019, and the Committee reiterates the 2019 recommendation that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities should work with the Department for Transport to ensure that areas of most need are properly prioritised for planning and investment. The current approach is clearly not effective, and innovative solutions are needed to provide transport networks that work for coastal areas. (Paragraph 127)

17.The Committee is disappointed in the progress that has been made to rectify the rail network losses resulting from the Beeching Report. More needs to be done to ensure that investment can continue in this area to protect those communities at the end of the line and build sustainable and effective connectivity. (Paragraph 128)

18.Progress has been made but digital connectivity remains a challenge in coastal areas. The Committee reiterates the need to prioritise digital connectivity in coastal areas, particularly in light of the lack of progress with transport options. Improved digital connectivity will enable coastal areas to capitalise upon the changed ways of working and the opportunities this presents for greater access to education and employment. (Paragraph 145)

Education and skills: stimulating an entrepreneurial culture

19.The need to provide additional support to areas struggling with educational attainment and social mobility is clear. However, it is concerning that the Government has introduced a further initiative to tackle these issues without clearly demonstrating how this will produce better outcomes than the Opportunity Areas programme. (Paragraph 161)

20.The Committee recommends that the Government keep the Education Investment Areas and Priority Education Investment Areas selected under review to assess whether these are effectively targeting the areas of greatest need. (Paragraph 162)

21.It is clear that different areas face different educational challenges, but where there is commonality, such as in coastal towns and communities, an emphasis should be placed on information sharing where interventions under the Education Investment Areas programme have been demonstrated to be effective. Areas which have not been included within the EIAs should also be able to benefit from the lessons learned. The Department for Education should ensure it provides collated examples of best practice and shares the progress made. (Paragraph 163)

22.The Government must ensure there is no repeat of the ad hoc extensions to the Opportunity Areas programme. The educational challenges faced by coastal communities, and other areas, are long-term and therefore EIAs and PEIAs must be properly organised as multi-year investments in order to tackle these. Schools need certainty. (Paragraph 164)

23.We acknowledge the steps taken to focus on teacher recruitment and retention and the wider challenges faced in this regard across the country. However, a more targeted approach is needed for areas which have continuing and long term recruitment challenges such as seaside towns and communities. We reiterate the 2019 recommendation: that the Government should review its approach to seaside towns and communities and determine what focused actions can be taken to improve teacher recruitment and retention. (Paragraph 180)

24.We commend the work being done to improve careers initiatives across schools and industry. This momentum needs to be maintained to ensure students receive the most effective support, experience the career pathways available and access the skills needed. (Paragraph 191)

25.The Government’s future careers initiatives should encourage and prioritise partnership working across education sectors and with industry, in particular in coastal and isolated areas. Where best practice has been established this needs to be distributed across areas sharing similar challenges in connecting education with local businesses to create a pathway to support local economies. (Paragraph 192)

26.The Committee recognises and welcomes the work done by Government to provide greater support for post-16 transport costs. However, transport infrastructure continues to be a barrier to students attending education, training or work experience opportunities. If the Government is to see true levelling up, more needs to be done to ensure that public transport services are sufficient to meet the needs of seaside towns and communities. (Paragraph 200)

Health and wellbeing

27.We welcome the targeted research to effectively identify and address health inequalities at a local level. We recommend that any findings from these collaborations should be shared with similar areas, to ensure that coastal areas which face similar challenges can apply any best practice in their own areas. (Paragraph 217)

28.We commend the work by Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, to address health disparities in coastal areas. The Committee recommends the Government reconsider the recommendations made by the Chief Medical Officer, in particular the need for a national strategy, and consider whether its current broader approach is sufficiently effective in providing targeted support to the areas, such as coastal towns and communities, that need it the most. (Paragraph 218)

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