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Coastal Communities: Funding

Volume 658: debated on Monday 8 April 2019

On 23 March we announced 70 grants, worth £36 million, from our coastal communities fund and coastal revival fund. This will mean that, by 2020, we will have invested over £200 million in coastal communities across England.

Flooding is a real threat to our coastal communities. Will my hon. Friend ensure that construction of new infrastructure in Looe is fully funded to maintain the town’s economic viability and future prosperity?

First, I take the opportunity to congratulate my hon. Friend on her recent wedding to Bob.

The Government are aware of the impact of tidal flooding in Looe. The Environment Agency and Cornwall Council are working on an integrated flood defence scheme as part of the £20 million wider regeneration of the area.

The recent House of Lords Select Committee report on the funding of coastal communities shows that our coastal towns and communities are hardest hit by austerity. Will the Minister take the report’s recommendations seriously and look at how we can redistribute wealth and power from the centre and into coastal communities, especially those in the far south-west such as Plymouth?

I saw the Select Committee’s report with interest—in fact, I had the privilege of giving evidence to the Select Committee—and it well identifies the fact that coastal communities across the country face shared challenges. That is, of course, why we have our coastal communities fund, which is looking at individual projects that can drive jobs, growth and prosperity in coastal communities, including those of Plymouth.

Cleethorpes is benefiting considerably from the coastal communities fund and has great potential for regeneration through the Greater Grimsby town deal. Can the Minister give my constituents an assurance that he will continue to look generously towards Cleethorpes?

I congratulate my hon. Friend, who is a redoubtable campaigner for his constituency. No Question Time passes without him talking about Cleethorpes, and I can say that, when considering investment in our coastal communities, I always have the biggest fish and chip shop in Britain at the forefront of my mind.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is always sunny on the south coast.

May I ask the Minister to consider the fact that, when people retire, they tend to move to coastal communities, which impacts on our social care and council tax bills? Will he consider long-term funding that properly looks at the age range in coastal communities? And will he also look at the radical reform of social care to make sure we have social care insurance, which would bring more money into the system?

I recently visited Bexhill and Battle for a brief jaunt to the seaside with my family, so I know my hon. Friend’s constituency well. We have recently confirmed that we will invest an additional £650 million in support and care in communities such as Bexhill and Battle, and I hope he will also look at the Government’s new stronger towns fund, which may be able to support his area.