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Most people believe pandemic has widened inequality gaps

Nearly six in ten people believe the pandemic has increased the gulf between social classes, according to a new survey.

The poll from the Social Mobility Commission reveals more than three quarters (79%) of adults now believe there is a large gap between different social classes and over half the public (56%) think the pandemic has increased social inequality.

A third (33%) say that inequality has increased by a lot, and 23% by a little, according to the survey of 4,693 adults in the UK, carried out by YouGov.

The commission’s annual barometer also shows significant public concern about mental health.

More than half (55%) of UK adults think the pandemic has had the most impact on mental health, while 44% say difficulties caused by a lack of social contact.

A quarter (26%) believe employment opportunities have been most affected with 22% citing access to education.

When asked, however, what the government’s key priorities should be in any pandemic recovery plan, the largest number of respondents said employment opportunities (47%) followed by addressing mental health issues (46%) and improving access to education (33%).

In general, two-thirds (64%) of the public believe those who are ‘just about managing’ are not getting enough support from the government. Similarly, more than half (52%) the public think those who are the least well off are not getting enough government support.

‘The pandemic has had a devastating impact on jobs, training and mental health, particularly among the most disadvantaged groups,’ said interim co-chair, Steven Cooper.

‘This poll dramatically underlines public concern about growing social inequality. Government, employers and educators should listen and act. The most disadvantaged – at home, school or work – should now be put centre stage in any recovery plan.’

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