Social mobility ‘virtually stagnant’ in Britain

The government needs to take urgent action to tackle social mobility in Britain, which was remained ‘virtually stagnant’ for the last five years, according to a new report.

The Social Mobility Commission’s State of the Nation 2018 report warns that inequality is now ‘entrenched’ in Britain and that ‘being born privileged still means you remain privileged’.

The report warns that social mobility has remained ‘virtually stagnant’ in Britain since 2014. Four years ago, almost two thirds (59%) of those from professional backgrounds were in professional jobs, rising to 60% last year.

According to the report, people from better off backgrounds are almost 80% more likely to be in a professional job than their working-class counterparts.

And people from working-class backgrounds move regions less and are less likely to relocate to London, where the largest proportion of new jobs in this country are created.

It adds that those from working-class backgrounds each 24% less a year than those from professional backgrounds, predominantly due to the jobs they end up in.

And even when those from working-class backgrounds do get jobs in professional occupations, they earn on average 17% less than their more privileged colleagues.

The report also found that almost half (49%) of the poorest adults have received no training since leaving school, compared to 20% of the richest.

And automation is also predicted to disproportionately impact low-skilled workers, whose jobs are most at risk of being automated.

The report also warns that there are now 500,000 more children in poverty than in 2012 and that children living in poverty can often have worse health and education outcomes than their more advantaged peers.

‘Our research suggests that being able to move regions is a key factor in being able to access professional jobs,’ said commission chair, Dame Martina Milburn.

‘Clearly moving out is too often necessary to move up. At a time when our country needs to be highly productive and able to carve out a new role in a shifting political and economic landscape, we must find a way to maximise the talent of all our citizens, especially those that start the furthest behind.’

Responding to the commission’s report, the chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Campbell Robb, said: ‘The commission’s report today reinforces what we have been seeing for some time: more people trapped on low incomes and unable to build a better life.

‘It’s unacceptable that there is a widening gulf between the reality in the UK and the sort of country we all want to live in. No child should have their prospects limited because of their background. But all too often the support available to people is not enough to overcome the forces holding them back,’ added Mr Robb.

‘Low pay and high costs, as well as serious regional inequalities, are forcing many people into a corner and constraining their ability to seize new opportunities. The government should urgently prioritise investing in skills and better-paid jobs in places where people are locked out of opportunity. This is crucial if we are to strike at the heart of this issue and build an inclusive economy.’

The Social Mobility Commission’s 2018 State of the Nation report is available to read here.

Photo by Jarmoluk (Pixabay)

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top