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Sat, 6 June 2020

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By Hft
By Dods General Election Hub 2019

Labour blasts Theresa May as new report reveals social mobility 'virtually stagnant' since 2014

Labour blasts Theresa May as new report reveals social mobility 'virtually stagnant' since 2014
3 min read

Labour has taken a swipe at the Government after a new report revealed social mobility had remained "virtually stagnant" since 2014.


The latest analysis from the Social Mobility Commission is a major blow to Theresa May's commitment to tackle "burning injustices" which she made when she became Prime Minister almost three years ago.

The 'state of the nation' report found that pressure on school budgets and children's centres, as well as reduced access to childcare, had made it harder for people from disadvantaged backgrounds to get ahead.

Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner lashed ministers over the figures, accusing them of creating a legacy of "entrenched inequality" across the country.

The Commission's research found that those from better-off backgrounds were still almost 80% more likely to have a professional job than those from a working class backgrounds.

And since 2014, the report warned, the number of people from professional backgrounds working in professional roles had risen by just 1% to 60%, while those from working class backgrounds entering the same roles had risen 2% to only 34%.

The report is the first piece of analysis produced by the Social Mobility Commission since the mass resignation of its commissioners last year.

The exodus was led by former Labour cabinet minister Alan Milburn, who accused Theresa May of lacking the ability to improve social mobility.

Speaking to the BBC's Today programme, the Commission's new chairwoman, Dame Martina Millburn, said those born into disadvantageed families still had to "overcome a series of barriers" to escape the inequality trap.

"I think our big concern is not stagnation, but, as time goes by, that it will actually get worse... There's still a big shift if you want to be socially mobile towards London," she said.

"I think you're three times more likely to move to London if you're from a professional background than if you're from a working-class background."

'DEVASTATING'

Among the group's recommendations are the introduction of a 'Real Living Wage' for all government workers and contractors.

The Real Living Wage is a £9 voluntary rate that eclipses the current £8.21 paid to workers on the National Living Wage.

Meanwhile, the report calls for children from poorer backgrounds to be given a "student premium" to help with extra costs related to education and says the Government's offer of 30 hours of free childcare a week should be expanded to more households.

Responding to the figures, Education Secretary Damian Hinds told the BBC social mobility was "very difficult" to tackle.

"Actually, it's quite difficult to measure movements over relatively short periods of time," he added. "You are talking usually about a generation."

But Ms Rayner said government cuts were to blame for the stagnation in social mobility as she warned the situation had become a "crisis".

The Labour frontbencher added: "The Government's own Social Mobility Commission has echoed Labour's concerns about the devastating impact of children's centres being closed and school funding being cut, and has called for Labour policies like the expansion of free childcare and increasing funding in further education.

"Labour will deal with this crisis and address deep and entrenched inequality by redisributing wealth and power so that our country works for the many, not just the few. Labour will expand free children to all 2, 3 and 4 year olds and introduce a National Education Service to deliver education and training, free at the point of use, from the cradle to the grave. Labour will act where this government refuses to."

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