The government has rejected calls to create new enterprise zones to help struggling seaside towns.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published yesterday (4 June) its official response to a report published earlier this year by a group of peers on the plight faced by coastal resorts.
The original report by the House of Lords’ regenerating seaside towns committee said urgent improvements are needed to transport, housing and broadband to help coastal resorts reinvent themselves.
The lords also singled out the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is set to replace EU funding after Brexit, as an opportunity to help support coastal business development, and to tackle deprivation in coastal communities.
But the government response rejects calls in the report to create new enterprise zones, which it argued could be tailored to meet the specific needs of seaside towns.
‘There are currently no plans to create new enterprise zones,’ the response states.
‘There are a number of programmes available to support struggling towns which are either in place or under development. They include the Coastal Community Teams, the Coastal Communities Fund, and the Coastal Revival Fund which are already in operation and focused on coastal and seaside towns.’
The response also promises that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will support people ‘in those parts of our country whose economies are furthest behind’.
‘By investing in the foundations of productivity, the fund can help deliver the government’s commitment to supporting coastal areas, helping them reach their economic potential and overcome the wide range of challenges some places face,’ the response adds.
The document adds that more details about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund are due to be announced following the spending review, which will take place later in the year.
But the government did agree with the lords’ call for a more ‘strategic approach’ between Whitehall departments and said it will be reinstating the ‘cross-Whitehall official level meeting to discuss coastal communities as soon as practicable’.
Commenting on the official response, the chief executive of the trade body UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls said it was pleased to see the government’s commitment to seaside towns.
‘It is, however, disappointing that government is not prepared to reconsider the benefits of a cut in VAT for tourism businesses, which will help to create even greater employment,’ added Ms Nicholls.
‘The focus on skills development absolutely ties in with the sector’s commitment to become an industry of choice for the workforce. The government can implement reforms to facilitate that and help us deliver great careers. We urge government to endorse the Tourism Sector Deal to unleash the potential the sector has to improve lives across in seaside towns and across the country.”
Photo by Kathryn19 (Pixabay)
Senior reporter – NewStart