WEYMOUTH and Portland has a new grim accolade to add to a list of depressing credentials after it was listed out as one of the most “left behind” communities in the country.

Borough residents are said to have some of the worst life chances as the area comes almost bottom of the pile in the 324 local authorities in England ranked in terms of their social mobility prospects for someone from a disadvantaged background.

At 322 in a list of 324 areas the borough is one of the areas “left behind economically and hollowed out socially” the report from the Social Mobility Commission said.

Westminster, London, is ranked 1 in the index .

While Weymouth and Portland is a popular tourist destination, there is a community in need of a boost behind the scenes.

It has wards which are some of the most deprived areas in the country, it has the lowest average weekly wages in the country, and has the third highest level of child poverty in the region.

The rates of sexually-transmitted infections, hospital stays for self harm and drug misuse is greater than the England average. 

In 2014, an article in the Observer newspaper sparked a debate on the state of the town. It said that beyond the beach, Weymouth was ‘a place beset by low wages, lack of transport, isolation and poverty of aspiration’.

The Social Mobility Commission’s Social Mobility Index uses a range of 16 indicators for every major life stage to map the nation’s social mobility ‘hotspots and coldspots’.

It looks at areas offering good education, employment opportunities and affordable housing to their most disadvantaged residents.

The social mobility map is dominated by London, which the report said resembles “a different country” in a “postcode lottery” in which life chances are increasingly tied to where people live.

Young people in “left-behind” communities face lower rates of pay, fewer top jobs and commuting times nearly four times longer than those in cities.

The independent commission has called on ministers to boost spending in areas which need it most.

Borough council leader Jeff Cant said the report was “very disappointing but not completely surprising given the neglect the area has suffered though lack of funding from the LEP and other sources”.

He added: “The council is working hard with its regeneration plans to turn round our economy and create an all year-round destination and thriving hub that will enable young people to stay.

“There’s a lot to do but we will continue to pursue this aim as much as we can until we hand over the role to the unitary authority in 2019.”

Key recommendations in the report:

  • Every local authority should develop an integrated strategy for improving disadvantaged children’s outcomes and that Pupil Premium funds should be invested in evidence-based practice.
  • Local authorities should support collaboration between isolated schools, subsidise transport for disadvantaged young people in isolated areas and encourage Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) to follow the North East LEP’s approach to improving careers support for young people.
  • Local authorities should all become accredited Living Wage employers and encourage others in their communities to do likewise.
  • Central government should launch a fund to enable schools in rural and coastal areas to partner with other schools to boost attainment.
  • Regional School Commissioners should be given responsibility to work with universities, schools and Teach First to ensure that there is a good supply of teachers in all parts of their regions.
  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy should match the Department for Education’s £72 million for the Opportunity Areas to ensure there is a collaborative effort across local education systems and labour markets.
  • Central government should rebalance the national transport budget to deliver a more equal share of investment per person and contribute towards a more regionally balanced economy.

BOROUGH council economic development spokesman Cllr James Farquharson said: “This news makes me very sad. The Observer published its “graveyard of ambition’ article in 2014. Ambition grows from opportunity and it’s still too hard for residents to find opportunity here. We urgently need central government to invest more in the essential foundations of a successful economy: roads, rail and skills.”

Cllr Tia Roos, whose Melcombe Regis ward is a deprived area, said austerity was still affecting many people, adding:

“To be very frank the impact on those who need help with disability, accessing services, various vulnerabilities and poverty are suffering the biggest brunt of those cuts."

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the region, said: “This shows the impact of a decade of austerity on some of the most disadvantaged. In the south west it is a story of neglect of vulnerable communities and the consequences of the chronic under-funding of the services they rely on to improve their life chances.”

She said the loss of public sector jobs, which traditionally offered a route to skilled employment, had closed off opportunities in regional economies.


127 Christchurch

147 East Dorset

175 Purbeck

187 West Dorset

198 Poole

216 North Dorset

245 Bournemouth

322 Weymouth and Portland