Cabinet Office publishes social mobility strategy

6 April 2011

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg yesterday unveiled the coalition Government’s social mobility strategy, which aims to create a society where everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential regardless of the circumstances of their birth.

The strategy acknowledges the contributions of the British Cohort Studies in identifying the factors affecting life chances, such as smoking in pregnancy. It also recognises that the cohort studies have produced important evidence on the origins and consequences of child poverty, the evolution of attainment gaps between rich and poor children and trends in social mobility over time. The Government says it will continue to use these findings to enable its performance in improving social mobility to be judged over the long term.

The strategy outlines the steps the Government will take to improve social mobility. These include:

  • invest in 15 hours per week of free pre-school education for disadvantaged two-year-olds and all three- and four-year olds
  • reform Sure Start Children’s Centres, including opening up service provision to the voluntary and community sector, paying providers by results and identifying other services to base within the centres
  • recruit 4,200 more health visitors
  • offer a pupil premium providing an extra £2.5 billion per year for disadvantaged children
  • get 100,000 people, including civil servants, into schools to talk about their career paths through the Inspiring the Future programme
  • raise the education and training participation age to 18
  • provide funding for more than 360,000 new apprenticeships
  • require universities charging over £6,000 a year in tuition fees to attract more students from poorer backgrounds
  • reform the welfare system and new Work Programme to get more unemployed people back into work
  • give part-time students the same access to loans as full-time students
  • encourage businesses to make internship and work experience programmes more fair and open, including those offered by government.

A new Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission will monitor the strategy’s progress, and departmental business plans will include seven new indicators to ensure new policies take account of impact on social mobility. The Government regards the recently announced 2012 birth cohort study as one of the key tools in building the evidence base for social mobility.

For more information, see the full strategy paper, Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers: A Strategy for Social Mobility.

Alongside the Social Mobility Strategy, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education also published the new child poverty strategy, A New Approach to Child Poverty: Tackling the Causes of Disadvantage and Transforming Families’ Lives. This document also draws on research based on the British Cohort Studies, particularly relating to the role of early intervention in improving how children do at school.

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