With its golden sandy beaches, spectacular views and rolling countryside, Salcombe has been named the UK’s most expensive seaside town to buy a house in.

Yet some people living there are relying on food banks as they struggle to feed themselves and their families.

According to Halifax’s annual seaside homes review, the average home in Salcombe now carries a price tage of more than £1.2 million - four times more expensive than the average home in other UK seaside towns.

It overtook Sandbanks, in Dorset, which was the priciest coastal spot in 2021.

A number of celebrities have owned second homes in the town in recent years including Mary Berry, England coach Sir Clive Woodward and Kate Bush.

But the same week the picturesque town was being crowned the priciest coastal town, hundreds of food packages were handed out to struggling locals in not only Salcombe, but in towns and villages across the South Hams including nearby Kingsbridge, Dartmouth and Totnes.

The cost of living crisis has resulted in many local people struggle to make ends meet, despite some working three jobs.

Many earn just the minimum wage, and cannot afford to buy food let alone a million pound house.

Gerrie Messer, operations manager and safeguarding lead at Kingsbridge Food Bank, said the number of people using the food bank has “escalated,” and they are now delivering to between 170 to 180 local households.

“Everything has got so expensive,” she said. “People can’t afford to pay their electricity and gas bills, they can’t afford to buy food, school uniforms or petrol.

“The contrast between the haves and the have-nots is quite marked. It’s getting bigger and far more noticeable. You walk up the high street in Salcombe, Kingsbridge, Dartmouth and even Modbury and none of them have got amazing shopping opportunities for local people.

“We have got a few second home owners who donate food or sponsor us, or who finish up at their house and make arrangements for whoever is doing the change-over to bring in left over food.

“We have got some phenomenal second home owners, it’s just a shame there aren’t more of them.”

Kit Stevens says Stepping Stones Totnes Community Food Hub is helping even more people in the town. via its new TQ9 Community Food Club, where members pay £2.50 for 10 items of food.

The foodbank serves some 25 households per week, while 266 people have used the food club in the last six months since its launch last November, said Kit.

The number of households using both services is rising gradually each week, she added.

“The numbers are rising, I’ve definitely seen a difference.

“It’s down purely to the cost of living crisis.

“The comment we get most often is “I don’t know what we would have done without you.””

The perception many people have, of Totnes being a rich town is not accurate, said Kit.

“That is a very longstanding, over-riding opinion but of course it’s not true. We have people of all means here, a lot who are well off and ordinary folk.

“But when people see me asking desperately for food to keep food on the shelves, they say “oh it’s all rich people living there isn’t it? This might affect the amount people want to give.

“We have seen a drop in donations as the people in the middle who did have enough to spare are now are beginning to look at their bills and think they maybe can’t donate so often.

“For the first time since I moved here, I’m having to spend money on food to buy enough in. I’ve been spending £200 to £300 a week.”

Both Totnes Food Bank and the TQ9 Club operate from St Mary’s Church Hall. The food bank is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 2.30pm. The Food Club is open on Mondays from 1.30pm to 8.30pm and on Fridays from 9.30am to 12noon.

For more information about Kingsbridge Food Bank visit www.kingsbridgefoodbank.org.uk