18th Dec, 2017

Midlands worst region for social mobility

Sarah Mason 5th Dec, 2017

THE MIDLANDS is the worst region in the country for social mobility for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, the government says.

The Social Mobility Commission has reported that there exists “a social mobility postcode lottery in the nation”.

A third of the local authority areas West Midlands and half of those in the East Midlands are social mobility ‘coldspots’.

But statistics shows that Solihull is in the top 20 per cent of local authorities in terms of the highest chances of social mobility and ranks 59 out of 324 areas.

Solihull was signposted in the report as having strong GCSE scores compared to other Midlands areas.

The West Midlands also has high university entry rates for people from disadvantaged backgrounds – especially in its cities.

However, the area has the second-worst quality primary education in the country.

At primary school, the region is also equal bottom in terms of the percentage of pupils on free school meals in primary schools rated Good or Outstanding.

In Solihull, a critical factor in the performance of top local authorities is the number and quality of teachers available.

A secondary teacher in the most deprived area is 70 per cent more likely to leave.

The report concluded that London is pulling away, while rural, coastal and former industrial areas are being left further behind.

It warns that the UK is in the grip of a “self-reinforcing spiral of ever growing division” and has called on the government to increase its proportion of spending on those parts of the country that most need it.

Estimates suggest that the North is £6 billion a year underfunded compared to London.

The report was compiled using the social mobility index.

It uses a range of 16 indicators for every major life stage, from early years through to working lives, to map the nation’s social mobility hotspots and coldspots.

The report debunks the assumption that a simple north/south divide exists.

Since the disclosure of the report, the four main figures in the Social Mobility Commission, including Alan Milburn, have stepped down saying that the government unfortunately cannot give the right amount of support for achieving the aims of the commission.

Mr Milburn, former chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said: “Tinkering around the edges will not do the trick.

“The analysis in this report substantiates the sense of political alienation and social resentment that so many parts of Britain feel.

“A new level of effort is needed to tackle the phenomenon of left-behind Britain.

“Overcoming the divisions that exist in Britain requires far more ambition and far bigger scale.

“A less divided Britain will require a more redistributive approach to spreading education, employment and housing prospects across our country.”

The report also submitted some key recommendations for individual local authorities.

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