Fighting for social justice is in the DNA of our party, and last month the Social Mobility Commission (SMC) confirmed something we all knew; this Tory government has failed miserably on social mobility, failed in tackling poverty and failed in addressing the fundamental health and wealth inequalities in our communities and regions.
After 10 years of austerity, underfunding of NHS and council services, as well as government abdicating its responsibility to our children we’ve seen: 600,000 more children are in relative poverty, more BAME children are likely to live in poverty, life expectancy is falling for the poorest women, and regional imbalances in life chances are monumentally restricting young people’s ability to get on in life.
‘Social mobility’ seems to be one of those political unicorns utilised by this government to claim successes in education particularly, but it’s more than that. Yes, social mobility allowed me to be the first person in my family to go to university, but only because the foundational policies of a Labour government supported my parents throughout my upbringing.
By failing so many young people so early in life – as the government’s own Social Mobility Commission confirmed last month – this government is only paying lip service to the idea of social mobility, of meritocracy, of being able to get on in life regardless of your background.
It’s simply not good enough that half of all adults from the poorest backgrounds receive no training at all after leaving school, but to start with post-16 education is to misunderstand the problems faced by our poorest communities.
Early years education, post-natal support, paternity and maternity leave, effective childcare and expansion of that childcare are all essential factors in ensuring our youngest get the best and most supported start in life.
The last Labour government knew the value of this and 22 years ago this year began work to create over 2,000 SureStart centres, in addition to doubling per pupil funding in schools and introducing Child Tax Credit, amongst other measures.
This latest Social Mobility Commission report shines a light on the social failures we’ve all seen flourish in our communities over the last decade of devastating and failed Tory austerity.
While ‘social mobility’ might well be bandied around as a gimmicky objective of this government they should look to my generation, the millennial generation, who had our early years and grew up under a Labour government to see the outcomes of effective social mobility policy.
Tory failure in this as in so many areas is a call to arms for our party and our movement. To act before the post war safety net is well and truly ripped apart, and the bullingdon club pull the ladders up behind them.
To read the Social Mobility Commission's full report, ‘Monitoring Social Mobility, 2013 to 2020: Is the government delivering on our recommendations?’ please follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/monitoring-social-mobility-2013-to-2020