The Social Mobility Commission, a government-sponsored body which promotes social mobility in England, has today published a report examining the impact of government policy on improving social mobility in the UK. The report cites Sutton Trust research several times including reports such as Chain Effects, Selective Comprehensives, Extra-curricular Inequalities and Leading People. The report finds that two decades of government efforts to improve social mobility have failed to deliver enough progress in reducing the gap between those from the most advantaged backgrounds in Britain and those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

It comes up with five key lessons from the past and makes recommendations for Government which include:

  • Successive governments have failed to make social mobility the cornerstone of domestic policy – so in future they should develop a strategic cross-departmental social mobility plan.
  • Long-term progress has too often been sacrificed to short-term change – so 10 year targets should be implemented to ensure public money is spent effectively.
  • How policies have been designed has often been misaligned from the objective of securing higher levels of social mobility – so public policy should be subjected to a new social mobility test.
  • Public resources have not been properly lined up behind social mobility policies – so future Budgets should identify how public spending addresses geographical, wealth and generational inequalities.
  • Governments have overly limited their scope of action – so in future they should be more active in building a national coalition with councils, communities and employers to improve social mobility.

The Sutton Trust has also called for a comprehensive Social Mobility plan, and the call was one of the recommendations in the Class Ceiling report which was published after an inquiry by the APPG for Social Mobility on access into leading professions. We recently published our mobility manifesto with our policy proposals to improve social mobility. Sir Peter Lampl’s response to the new report is here.

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