Levelling up the low wage economy

“Particularly for those living in coastal areas, local labour markets do not provide much room for those to move beyond low wage, low skill, precarious work.”

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The Rural Services Network news pages has a couple of key items on the ‘levelling up’ agenda.

Firstly, on High Streets:

FROM SURVIVAL TO REVIVAL: HOW CAN WE REGENERATE OUR HIGH STREETS?

Pre COVID-19 some high streets were already struggling with 1 in 10 units vacant and declining footfall. As part of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, many non-essential shops were closed for long periods. Alongside this, changes in consumer behaviour resulting from reduced socialising and travel have had a big impact on our high streets and retailers. This is all prompting a wide-ranging and difficult rethink about what the purpose of our towns will be in the future. What might this mean for rural settlements?

From survival to revival: how can we regenerate our high streets? – Rural Services Network

Secondly, on coastal towns:

THIRD OF MOST DEPRIVED AREAS WILL NOT BENEFIT FROM LEVELLING UP FUND, RESEARCH FINDS

The Government announced earlier this year its plans to ‘Level Up’ the country, by allocating funding to address geographic inequalities across the UK. However, new research by the Salvation Army warns that more than a third of England’s most deprived areas are at risk of missing out on funding and spiralling even further into poverty.

Research published in their latest report ‘Understanding people, Understanding places’ showed that more than a third of England’s most deprived areas will not benefit from the Government’s £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund. The findings show that while coastal and rural areas feature some of the highest levels of deprivation, these are also the areas most likely to miss out on Levelling Up investment. As part of the Levelling Up Agenda and upcoming White Paper in the autumn, the Government will be investing further funds into Local Authorities in the priority areas. 

For the Levelling Up Agenda to be a success they are calling on the Government to rethink how need is calculated to ensure that when the funding allocation process starts, investment is made in areas with the most need and invested in sustainable projects that will help people and communities to move out of poverty. 

Third of most deprived areas will not benefit from Levelling Up Fund, research finds – Rural Services Network

Of course, Sidmouth is by no stretch of the imagination ‘deprived’.

However, it does rely on the low wage economy – of high street retail and hospitality.

And as the Salvation Army report points out, this is a real problem:

Lack of training and progression in low wage and low skill sector jobs

Particularly for those living in coastal areas, local labour markets do not provide much room for those to move beyond low wage, low skill, precarious work. 

Levelling Up | The Salvation Army

One in three deprived areas locked out of ‘Levelling Up’ funding | The Salvation Army

Local businesses are desperate to find staff:

33 Jobs in Sidmouth | findajob.dwp.gov.uk

But many are saying there have to be serious changes to the job market:

Labour shortages: of declining wages and working conditions – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Do we really want to ‘go back to normal’? 1: the future of work – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Do we really want to ‘go back to normal’? 2: the hospitality industry – Vision Group for Sidmouth

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