Upwardly mobile?

How far will fairness go in tackling social mobility? It’ll pull up short in the absence of targets and tie-ins, argues Clare Goff

The government has committed itself to social mobility as the principal goal of its social policy.

Its social mobility strategy document, Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers, published this month, is framed around the idea of lifecycles. A lifecycle framework will monitor mobility at key points in life, from early years through school years, ‘transition years’ from 16-19 and adulthood, with indicators for each stage.

The government’s underlying principle to social mobility is fairness, which it defines as ‘everyone having the chance to do well, irrespective of their beginnings’.

This meritocratic approach is a theme that runs through much of the current government’s policy, from the comprehensive spending review to its welfare reform plans.

The social mobility strategy brings together the government’s social policy interventions and provide a narrative for its approach. Reforms to the welfare system, the introduction of a Pupil Premium and an end to unpaid internships are packaged up as a programme of lifelong support and action to help end Britain’s damaging lack of social mobility, which it says ‘leaves the country’s potential unfulfilled’.