Social mobility: the next steps

P Gregg, Paul Cleal, Gillian Shephard, Alan Milburn, David Johnston, Tom Attwood, Anne Marie Carrie, Christian Guy, Catriona Williams, Douglas Hamilton

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission was formally tasked by Ministers to give its view on what further steps the UK government could reasonably take to improve social mobility.

The Commission advised opportunities for low paid workers to move up the career ladder, for young people to move from school to employment, and for disadvantaged youngsters to get support in their earliest years should be Ministers’ top priorities if they are to make headway on tackling the UK’s stagnating levels of social mobility.

The recommendations of the report include that the UK government should:

• Tackle the prevalence of low pay by changing the law to require listed firms and public sector employers to publish the number of staff earning low pay, and get the Low Pay Commission to set voluntary benchmarks for different sectors. The Commission believes this will help address the current situation where over half of working age adults in poverty and two thirds of children in poverty are in households where at least one adult works.

• Consider ways to address the income gradient in children’s outcomes, such as stretching the pupil premium into nurseries and targeted antenatal classes that focus on how to help all parents know the basics of child development. The Commission believes that simple messages about the importance of parenting could start to narrow the stark gap in outcomes, for example just 4 in ten (42%) of the poorest children are read to every day compared to almost eight in ten (79%) of children from the richest families.

• Assess what is happening to careers advice in schools and be prepared to strengthen obligations given widespread concerns that there is a problem. Only one in 20 businesses (5%) across the UK feels careers advice is good enough, while nearly three quarters (72%) think that advice needs to improve.

The Chair of the Commission, the Rt Hon Alan Milburn said:

There are a lot of government initiatives underway that could make a difference to social mobility. But there are obvious gaps in the government’s policy agenda that need to be closed. We welcome the opportunity to make recommendations about how that can be achieved. We identify early years, youth transition and wage progression as absolutely critical for life chances but too often they fall between the cracks in the responsibilities of different departments and agencies. We now look to government to take action.

Next month the Commission will issue our first annual report on what progress is being made overall by government, employers and schools to put social mobility higher up all of their agendas.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherSocial Mobility & Child Poverty (SMCP) Commission
Commissioning bodySocial Mobility and Child Poverty (SMCP) Commission
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2013


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