Tidal wave of personal bankruptcies in seaside resorts
The five towns in the UK with the highest individual bankruptcy rates are all seaside resorts or ports, showing that coastal areas are falling behind the rest of the UK economically, according to research by Wilkins Kennedy.
The firm calculates that levels of personal bankruptcy in some coastal towns are now double the national average of 25 new cases per 10,000 adults per year. Top of the list is Torbay with 54 new cases per 10,000 adults in the last year. Rhyl & Prestatyn came second with 53, followed by Scarborough and Blackpool (both at 48). Hull, which was declared the new City of Culture this week, comes in at fifth worst in the bankruptcy table (44).
In total, 21 out of the top 50 areas in the personal bankruptcy table are coastal or port towns or regions. They include Great Yarmouth, Plymouth, the Isle of Wight, Hastings and Western-super-Mare. Wilkins Kennedy says BAE Systems recent announcement of the closure of Portsmouth’s historic dockyard with the loss of 940 local jobs is likely to deal a further blow to the coastal economy.
Anthony Cork, partner at Wilkins Kennedy, said: ‘Many of our coastal towns have been suffering a slow decline for many years, as tourism struggles to compete with cheap overseas travel, fishing quotas are slashed and other maritime industry has all but died off. These figures highlight how desperate their plight still is – with even traditionally popular tourist destinations suffering severe pain.’
Cork said that the government’s Coastal Communities Fund, which will provide £29m next year to support economic development projects in coastal regions, is unlikely be enough to bring about long-term solutions to all their economic problems.
‘Students and graduates with high levels of debt will find it hard to return to their home towns if they can’t find a decent job, but unless young talent can be persuaded to stay, it’s difficult for businesses to invest, creating a vicious cycle. Seaside areas also tend to have a higher proportion of elderly residents, who are particularly hard hit by rocketing energy bills, motoring costs and the rising cost of living generally, factors which could also tipping more and more families into insolvency,’ Cork said.