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Our CEO’s response to the latest Social Mobility Commission Report, 10 June 2020

The latest report from the Social Mobility Commission (SMC) paints a stark picture of the UK’s failure to tackle social mobility. Even before the crisis we currently face, social mobility in this country was far below the rest of Europe and falling further behind and yet the government had failed to act. This report shows that the British promise to young people – work hard and you will be rewarded – is still being broken, and in fact it is where you are born and your family background that determines your life chances. Levelling up is at risk of becoming a cruel joke.

The UK has yet to feel the full economic and social impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, all evidence so far is cause for serious concern. From early years education to universities, and from apprenticeships to professional jobs, the gap between rich and poor is accelerating further still and it is young people who will be most damaged unless we act.

The SMC’s report recommends “joined-up” thinking in Whitehall as part of the economic recovery, as well as the creation of a dedicated social mobility unit to ensure coordination between all departments of the civil service in tackling this crisis. This is sensible, but the evidence of this report is that leading change can’t be left to government or it will never happen. Employers, local authorities, schools and universities, and all of us in civil society have to act with urgency and ambition to create the opportunities that are so desperately needed for young people, and government should make clear it will back and invest in bold commitments.

The situation is dire.

Sarah Atkinson

Chief Executive

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