Causeway across the bottom of Mount's bay Marazion, Cornwall, England.Shutterstock ID:398239339
A consortium of South West organisations has been awarded funding to investigate some of the key inequalities facing the region’s coastal communities and how they might be addressed.
The collaboration has received an initial £50,000 through the Local Policy Innovation Partnerships (LPIP) programme, being administered by UK Research and Innovation, to accelerate the vision for a South West Coastal LPIP.
That initial phase of work, which runs until September, could ultimately enable the partners to secure a share of the £23million available through the wider programme.
The South West Coastal LPIP is focused around Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, which have the largest coast to land area ratio of any region in England.
It draws together a range of public, private and voluntary bodies, including universities, local authorities, charity organisations and communities themselves.
They include those with direct experience of the challenges facing coastal communities, as well as those working to unlock opportunities for them to lead the UK in sectors such as digital innovation and offshore renewable energy.
Together, the partners will identify ways to address known coastal inequalities, facilitate the creation of new interventions, and establish the infrastructure to create and share data to enable evidence-based approaches.
They will also create a platform through which local, regional and national decision-makers can more fully understand how policy can support these new ways of working to address these issues.
The initiative is being led by the University of Plymouth and Professor Sheena Asthana, Co-Director of its Centre for Coastal Communities, said:
“Coastal communities are often lauded for their stunning surroundings and benefits for people’s health and wellbeing. However, many have for years also been characterised by high levels of unemployment, low incomes, seasonal jobs, low skills, poor educational outcomes and a number of other complex issues. This initiative would create a platform through which local, regional and national decision-makers can more fully understand how policy can support new ways of working. By bringing together and mobilising the public, private and voluntary sectors we can establish known inequalities and develop effective means of overcoming them.”
Sheena Asthana. Plymouth Pioneers
Professor Sheena Asthana
Between now and September, the partners in the South West Coastal LPIP are working to identify gaps in representation and ensure that voices from across the breadth of coastal communities can be brought together.
They are appointing a number of citizen researchers, who can use their experience to engage others in communities, and establish a series of online and in-person workshops.
Specialist sub-groups are also being established around themes including the economy, community and the environment, recognising the diverse challenges facing communities of this nature.
The LPIPs programme has been designed to support local and national policymakers in tackling levelling up challenges, driving sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and reducing regional disparities in the UK. It has been developed as part of UK Research and Innovation’s Creating Opportunities and Improving Outcomes theme.
Economic and Social Research Council Interim Executive Chair, Professor Alison Park, said:
“From bridging skills gaps to promoting cultural recovery and building a greener economy, the LPIPs present an exciting new way of using the UK’s strengths in research and innovation to contribute to developing place-based solutions to some of the UK’s most pressing local and regional challenges. This first round of funding will enable the LPIPs to build the robust, wide-reaching partnerships necessary to give their proposals the best possible chance of delivering real results for communities and the country as a whole.”

The South West Coastal Local Policy Innovation Partnership

A group of organisations across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset have been funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to work in partnership to design solutions that make life better in our coastal communities.
There is growing evidence that coastal communities (near the sea) face unique challenges. Some key factors may include the decline of traditional industries, the strong reliance on tourism which leads to a low incomes, seasonal jobs and higher house prices, However, to understand the experiences of these challenges in more detail the partnership will put people in communities at the heart of the work.
Aerial shot of Plymouth Sound

Centre for Coastal Communities

Finding solutions to the challenges facing coastal communities.
The challenges facing coastal communities are increasingly recognised, as new and worrying patterns of deprivation have materialised in peripheral coastal areas across the UK.
The University of Plymouth is one of the few UK Higher Education Institutions with a critical mass of academics with a proven track record of research on coastal communities.
Find out more about our research
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