Social Mobility

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 30th March 2022.

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Photo of Antony Higginbotham Antony Higginbotham Conservative, Burnley

What steps the Government are taking to improve social mobility.

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch Minister for Equalities, Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (jointly with Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The Government believe that the circumstances of a person’s birth should not determine life outcomes. We recently published our levelling up White Paper to address regional disparities across the UK and put more money into the pockets of those who need it most. We are also bolstering the Social Mobility Commission by appointing new commissioners who will help to improve public understanding of how opportunity is created and made accessible to all.

Photo of Antony Higginbotham Antony Higginbotham Conservative, Burnley

For too long, the focus on social mobility has been about what a person looks like and not what that person can offer. Can the Minister confirm that we will consign that approach to history, and instead focus on what everyday people can offer the country and ensure that they have the opportunity that they deserve?

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch Minister for Equalities, Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (jointly with Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

My hon. Friend is right: social mobility is very much about the individual. He will be pleased to know that the Government are taking a new approach to equality which goes beyond the protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010 and also takes account of socioeconomic and regional disparities. He will have noticed that we have released our strategy for racial equality, “Inclusive Britain”, which is based on some of the principles to which he has referred.

Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

Social mobility is a laudable aim that everyone in the House agrees with, but this week I was shocked to see Action for Children report that nearly half of children surveyed from low-income backgrounds say that they worry about their families’ finances. That kind of stress will help no child to do well at school and will help no child to succeed. We know that family finances and the ability to work are also constrained by childcare. So can the Minister say what she is doing in her role to work across Government to help on family finances and, in particular, to help parents who need to fund the cost of childcare?

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch Minister for Equalities, Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (jointly with Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I have another role as Minister for Levelling Up Communities, and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities recently invested £300 million in a flagship programme to support the families who need help the most. The hon. Lady will have heard from other Ministers in various Departments what we have been doing about the cost of living, and I refer her to their statements.