EARC publishes report on health and economic inequalities of the coast

03 October 2022

The Eastern Arc region is unique. Stretching across the East and South-East of England, from the Wash to the Channel, ours is a region of contrasts. It is a region of significant prosperity and stark deprivation, of urban centres and agricultural richness, of natural beauty and historic significance, of trade, transport, migration and movement.

As part of our work as an advocate for the region and a proactive partner within it, we have commissioned a report that highlighting both the challenges and the opportunities facing our coast.

Undertaken by KADA research, the report uses data from the Office for National Statistics and other sources to create a clear and comprehensive picture of the economic and social deprivation in our coastal towns and communities, including the ‘health deficit’ identified by Professor Chris Whitty in his annual report 2021.

It also identifies the unique strengths in our region, from clean energy generation and developments around our aquaculture, to our cultural, creative, heritage and visitor economies.

Amongst other findings, the report highlighted the following:

  • The coastal districts highlighted in the report are all in the top 20% of the most deprived areas in England; 
  • The coastal towns across the South East have the lowest average pay in the region, and 95% of areas analysed fall below the national average;
  • Over a third of districts in the EARC region have a higher than average number of claimants, suggesting a significant percentage of economic inactivity and unemployment in the working age population;
  • In the South East of England coastal communities have the lowest skills and education in the region;
  • Life expectancy across the Eastern Arc area is lower on the coast, and in a third of districts it was lower than the national average;
  • In the South East, coastal towns and communities (CTCs) have the highest numbers of people living in fuel poverty across the region.

More positively, the report noted significant strengths in the area, including:

  • A clustering of creative sector employment along the coast that is higher than the national average, particularly in Norfolk and in the Kent districts of Dover, Folkestone and Hythe, and Canterbury;
  • A concentration of heritage assets along the coast, particularly around Dover and Folkestone, the Medway and Thames estuaries, Colchester, Felixstowe to Aldeburgh, and North Norfolk;
  • Very high concentrations of energy sector employment along the coast, particularly around low carbon and renewable generation. Notably, Suffolk recorded a quotient over five times higher than the average in England;
  • A significant number of important transport hubs and ports, including thirteen commercial ports, six passenger ports and five container ports, many of which are being developed into Freeports.

‘This is a signfiicant report, and couldn’t be more timely,’ said Phil Ward, Director of Eastern Arc. ‘With the change of government and a shift in priorities, including the scapping of the white paper on health inequalities, it is more important than ever to be an advocate for communities facing significant challenges. We must work with and support them in addressing these challenges.

‘We will link with the sectors of our economy which invest in our region and have demonstrated their strength in doing so. We will collaborate with local authorities, NHS trusts, businesses, charities and other organisations to bring about positive change.

‘This report is a hugely important foundation for us doing so. I would like to thank KADA for its work in this, and in particular the report’s author, Dr Sophia Negus. I would also like to thank the EIRA project for poviding support for the commissioning of the report.’

The report is available here (pdf) and on our Issuu shelf. In addition, EARC commissioned a report on the heritage assets in the region, which provides further detail on the opportunities and challenges in this area.

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