Social Mobility Commission says there is 'hunger for change' on economic divide
A new report has called for “deep seated reform” to boost social mobility after finding two decades of government efforts have struggled to reduce the gap between rich and poor.
The Social Mobility Commission said there was an “us-and-them society”, and that the divide was set to widen in the future.
Former Cabinet minister Alan Milburn, the chair of the Commission, said there was “hunger for change” in Britain.
The Commission has published a landmark report analysing government efforts to increase social mobility over the last 20 years.
It found child poverty has risen since the global financial crash, and that there was currently no strategy to eliminate it.
Further to this, there is also currently “no prospect” of the gap between poorer and wealthier children being eliminated at either GCSE or A level.
The report also revealed that at current rates of progress, it will take 120 years before disadvantaged young people are as likely as their better off peers to achieve A level or equivalent qualifications. And it would take 80 years before the participation gap in higher education closes.
Although employment rates are the highest on record, one in five people in the UK are stuck on low pay, the report found.
Mr Milburn said: “As the general election seems to demonstrate, the public mood is sour and whole tracts of Britain feel left behind. There is a mood for change in Britain.
“When more and more people feel like they are losing out, social mobility matters more than ever before. Higher social mobility can be a rallying point to prove that modern capitalist economies like our own are capable of creating better, fairer and more inclusive societies. It is the best antidote to the growth of political populism, both right and left, that we have witnessed around the world.”
He added: “If we go on like this, these divisions are set to widen, not narrow. There is a growing sense in the nation that these divisions are not sustainable, socially, economically or politically. There is hunger for change.
“The policies of the past have brought some progress, but many are no longer fit for purpose in our changing world. New approaches are needed if Britain is to become a fairer and more equal country.”
CEO of Save the Children have responded to the report saying: "If we truly want to be a fair and prosperous society, we need to start at the beginning and give every child – no matter what their background – the very best start in life. This means making sure that every nursery has a qualified early years teacher to give them the confidence and education they need to prosper and excel.”