Corbyn to pledge to heal ‘held-back’ coastal towns in speech in key marginal
Jeremy Corbyn will promise to fix the “grotesque inequality” blighting “held-back” coastal communities in an election pitch at a key marginal seat.
The Labour leader will blame years of Tory austerity for leaving behind seaside towns in a speech in Hastings, East Sussex, on Saturday.
With analysis suggesting workers earn £1,600 less in seaside areas than those inland, Mr Corbyn will hope the pitch to boost wages can overturn the Conservatives’ wafer-thin majority there.
He is expected to tell a rally: “Hastings, like so many other held-back coastal communities, has been blighted by the grotesque inequality and poverty caused by nine years of vicious austerity and Tory cuts.
“Poverty and inequality is not inevitable. In the fifth-richest country in the world no-one should be forced to rely on a food bank to feed their family, no-one should be sleeping rough on our streets, and nobody should be working for poverty wages.
“Labour will end the evil of in-work poverty and the next Labour government will end the need for food banks.”
The Conservatives said Hastings is one of 100 areas to benefit from the Government’s £3.6 billion towns fund.
Labour believes one in five adults in the Hastings and Rye constituency will be on Universal Credit when it is fully rolled out, while food banks in the town say they distributed nearly 90,000 meals last year.
Mr Corbyn will blast the flagship Tory welfare policy as “inhumane and barbaric” and has pledged to scrap it if his party wins a general election.
But so far Labour and other opposition parties have refused to grant Prime Minister Boris Johnson the vote he desires, with Mr Corbyn saying he will only do so when a no-deal Brexit has been averted.
The Labour leader will also tell voters of his plans to introduce a real living wage of at least £10 an hour, build a million “genuinely affordable” homes, and extend workers’ rights to “tip power away from bosses”.
BBC News analysis published this week found that workers in coastal areas earn on average £1,600 less per year than those living inland, and that two-thirds of coastal areas have seen real-terms drops in wages since 2010.
Hastings and Rye was won for the Tories by Amber Rudd in 2017 with a narrow majority of 346.
Labour would have relished trying to unseat the former work and pensions secretary, but she has said she will not run again in the constituency after quitting the Conservatives over the PM’s handling of Brexit.
Minister for local growth Jake Berry said the towns fund will be used to deliver “real, visible change across” Hastings.
“Through our £228 million coastal communities fund, we’ve funded initiatives in Hastings to upgrade the seafront, such as reviving the White Rock area and renovating the Rock House to provide crucial business space,” he said.
“Thanks to a thriving economy and record employment, the Government can afford to invest more in communities across the country – something that would be put at risk with a reckless high tax, high debt Corbyn government.”