Monday, November 03, 2008

New report says social mobility improving in the UK

A new study is released today that shows some improvement in social mobility in the UK. But the amount of the improvements is being debated by the nations' two big political parties.

Improving social mobility is important as it makes it easier for people to work themselves out of poverty. The more a nation can do to ease the barriers of employment, education, or social status, the easier it will be for people to move up.

As we find in this story from the BBC, the improvements in social mobility were seen through a link in education and parents earnings.

Education charity the Sutton Trust has also claimed that the government's education policy fails to give poorer children the chance to improve their quality of life.

Figures published on Monday by the Strategy Unit suggest that, between 1970 and 2000, social mobility neither improved nor deteriorated.

However, findings provided for it by Bristol University, the London School of Economics and the Institute of Fiscal Studies seem to show that there have been encouraging signs since then.

They appear to indicate that a child's academic achievement - measured by the number of GCSEs they pass - is becoming less dependent on their family's wealth.

Cabinet Office minister Liam Byrne told the BBC: "Despite the changes of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, social mobility didn't get moving a lot.

"Now there's a sense that since 2000 we have been making a difference."

Mr Byrne said increased nursery places, improving exam results, more people staying on at school after the age of 16 and better on-the-job training meant poorer people's life chances were improving.

For the Conservatives, shadow work and pensions secretary Chris Grayling said: "What a damning indictment of 11 years of Labour government - of vast amounts of money spent on regeneration programmes, on complex new systems of support for people on low incomes, on the New Deal - that the best they can claim is a fractional improvement."

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