Coastal communities in the UK are some of the most deprived areas of the country. They have higher rates of unemployment and lower wages. Large outward flows of younger residents present serious demographic challenges. Politically, and of course geographically, these communities feel isolated and left behind.

Analysing government data on new start-ups and insolvencies adds a new dimension to this picture. This data reveals that individuals in coastal communities are 24% more likely to experience insolvency in the form of bankruptcies, debt relief orders and individual voluntary agreements (2.5 per 1000 residents for coastal areas versus 1.0 for non-coastal areas). Even more worrying, records of new businesses registrations shows that individuals in coastal communities are 44% less likely to start a new business (5.2 per 1000 residents for coastal areas versus 9.4 for noncoastal areas).

Coastal communities in the UK need a new economic model. This analysis shows that individuals in these communities are not staring up new businesses but shutting down. Ultimately this is not sustainable. A new model, one that uses and supports a healthy coastal environment is needed. NEF’s Blue New Deal project aims to deliver stronger economies for UK coastal communities, supporting more and better jobs through a healthier marine environment. There are already great examples of innovative and sustainable approaches happening around the UK coast, from investment in renewable energy to innovative management of our coastal environment – proof that change is possible.