Social Mobility Commission warns UK is in a 'spiral of division'

Posted On: 
27th November 2017

The UK is in a “self-reinforcing spiral of ever-growing division”, according to a key study of social mobility published today.

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The latest annual report from the Government’s Social Mobility Commission puts into sharp focus Theresa May’s pledge to improve the lives of people who are “just about managing”.

Rural and coastal communities were among the worst-performing areas in terms of life chances, with London increasingly pulling ahead of the rest of England.

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People in more isolated areas often face longer commutes to work, lower paid work and a dearth of senior positions.

However some deprived inner city areas performed well in the Commission’s social mobility index, with London boroughs such as Tower Hamlets, Newham and Hackney among the best-performing in the country.

On the other hand poor people in affluent areas often fared badly, with low job opportunities and a lack of affordable housing.

The chair of the Commission, former health secretary Alan Milburn, called for a “new level of effort” from government to tackle entrenched inequality and “social resentment”.

“The country seems to be in the grip of a self-reinforcing spiral of ever-growing division,” he said.

“That takes a spatial form, not just a social one. There is a stark social mobility lottery in Britain today.

“London and its hinterland are increasingly looking like a different country from the rest of Britain. It is moving ahead, as are many of our country’s great cities.

“But too many rural and coastal areas and the towns of Britain’s old industrial heartlands are being left behind economically and hollowed out socially.”

Commenting on the findings of the Social Mobility Commission’s State of the Nation report, published today, Jenny Baskerville, head of social mobility for KPMG said:

“The State of the Nation Report pulls no punches on the geography of disadvantage currently present in the UK. This ‘postcode lottery’ has long been a structural problem in this country and the Commission’s recommendations for greater investment, and better integration between employers and educators locally are proactive measures which could make a real difference.


Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner claimed today's findings showed the Government's policies were not delivering.

“In every area the Commission has highlighted, the Tories’ record is one of failure. Under the Tories, Sure Start funding has been cut by half, nurseries are in crisis, there are 400,000 more children living in poverty and the Chancellor has just pocketed a £750m under-spend on childcare rather than invest in our kids," she said.
“The consequences are stark. The country is becoming more divided, with the life chances of the poorest dependent on their postcode. Labour will do things very differently by creating a National Education Service to give opportunities to every child, whatever their background, as we transform Britain into a country that works for the many, not the few.”