Social mobility has been “virtually stagnant” since 2014, the Commission warned, while its Chair Dame Martina Milburn told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “our big concern is not stagnation, but, as time goes by, that it will actually get worse”.
The report found that people from more privileged backgrounds were 80% more likely to find a professional job than their working class peers. Only 34% of those from disadvantaged homes were able to score these roles compared with 60% of those who grew up better-off.
Even when working class people were able to get into the professions, they were paid 17% less on average than their more affluent peers, rising to 35% when the pay gap between working class women and more-privileged men was analysed.
“Being born privileged means you are likely to remain privileged,” Dame Milburn said. “But being born disadvantaged means you may have to overcome a series of barriers to ensure you and your children are not stuck in the same trap.”
“At a time when our country needs to be highly productive and able to carve out a new role in a shifting political and economic landscape, we must find a way to maximise the talent of all our citizens, especially those that start the furthest behind,” she added.
Among the Commission’s recommendations was a call on the government to ensure its own workers – subcontracted or otherwise – the Real Living Wage.
The Institute of Employment Rights goes further. In our Manifesto for Labour Law, we propose that the Real Living Wage is rolled out as a new statutory minimum, socio-economic background is included as a protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010 to tackle class-based discrimination, public sector organisations are given a duty to close the gap between the haves and have-nots, and sectoral collective bargaining is reinstated to allow trade unions and employers’ associations to negotiate decent pay and conditions across entire industries.