LONDON and its surrounding areas are “increasingly looking like a different country” from the rest of Britain, the chair of the Social Mobility Commission, Alan Milburn, said this week. He was launching a new report which suggests that two-thirds of social mobility “hotspots” are in the capital.
The Commission’s fifth annual “State of the nation” report ranks all 324 local authorities in England in terms of the social mobility prospects for someone from a disadvantaged background, using indicators that include the quality of education, participation in higher education, and median salary.
It found that, rather than a North/South divide, the country has “hotspots and coldspots” in almost every region, and that while some of the most deprived areas are hotspots, such as Tower Hamlets in London, some of the most affluent areas, such as West Berkshire, are among the worst for offering good education, employment opportunities, and affordable housing to their more disadvantaged residents.
East and West Midlands were found to be the worst-performing regions. The Commission says that coastal and older industrial towns, such as Scarborough, Hastings, Derby, and Nottingham, are becoming “entrenched social mobility coldspots”. Among the recommendations is a push to ensure a good supply of teachers in all parts of the country.
“London and its hinterland are increasingly looking like a different country from the rest of Britain,” Mr Milburn said. “Too many rural and coastal areas and the towns of Britain’s old industrial heartlands are being left behind economically and hollowed out socially. Tinkering around the edges will not do the trick. . . A less divided Britain will require a more redistributive approach to spreading education, employment and housing prospects across our country.”
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