A major new report from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission calls on politicians of all parties to explain what they want to achieve when it comes to tackling poverty and improving mobility, and how, if elected, they plan to do so. It warns that it would be easy for the cross-party consensus on social mobility and child poverty to evaporate in the face of significant financial, economic and political headwinds. It calls on politicians of all parties to shore up that consensus or risk Britain becoming a permanently divided nation. In particular it calls on the parties to set out what action they would take in five priority areas:
Redeploying spending to maximise social progress
Restarting the twin engines of social mobility: Education and Housing
Realigning policy on the working poor
Refocusing on opening up the top of British society
Rebuilding a coalition in the country behind less poverty & more mobility
The document maps the geographical variations in social mobility across England, based on a social mobility index, revealing:
- Social mobility cold spots in the East of England around the Wash and in coastal areas of the South East – as well as the old industrial areas of the North and Midlands – where high employment has masked very low educational attainment.
- London is a social mobility hotspot because high educational attainment levels and a buoyant labour market have offset high rates of child poverty.
Alan Milburn and Baroness Gillian Shephard, Chair and Deputy Chair of the Commission said:
“British politicians have agreed for decades that boosting social mobility and reducing child poverty are essential. Counter to today’s prevailing anti-politics mood, that this consensus has produced real results on some of the most intractable social problems of our age, is testament to the ability of our political system to deliver.
“Nonetheless, it is obvious that the progress made so far has been too limited and too slow. This is not a criticism of what current or previous Governments have done, but instead an exhortation to all the political parties to continue to bend to the wheel. Urgent action and renewed energy is needed now if the challenges of the fiscal deficit and deep-seated changes in the labour and housing markets are not to result in Britain becoming a permanently divided nation.”