15 June 2017
New figures published by the Social Mobility Commission today show that half of the population think their opportunities in life depending mainly on their background and who their parents are; and most agree there is a large gap between the social classes.
The poll of almost 5,000 people discovered that 48% agree with this statement and only 32% believe everyone has a fair chance.
What’s more, the picture is even starker among young people, with 51% of 18-to-24-year-olds stating their futures are mostly determined by their backgrounds, only one-fifth expecting to have a better level of job security than their parents, only 17% anticipating better job satisfaction than their parents, and only 30% saying they think it is getting easier to move up in British society.
Most people of all age groups agreed that British society is still unequal, with 79% saying there is a large gap between social classes, and 71% saying there are ‘fairly or very’ large difference in oportunity depending on where you live.
A significant majority said they thought poorer people are disadvantaged throughout their lives, including 76% expecting this demographic to have less chance of getting into a top university, a 66% saying they would have fewer opportunities to enter a professional career.
Most people also felt the government needs to do more to reduce this inequality, with 61% saying the “just about managing” should receive more support, while 49% said the poorest need more help.
Alan Milburn, Chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said: “Young people increasingly feel like they are on the wrong side of a profound unfairness in British society – and they are unhappy about it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, what could be dubbed the ‘revenge of the young’ was evident at the general election with record numbers of young people turning out to vote.”
“The feelings of pessimism young people are expressing are borne out by the facts they are experiencing,” he continued.
“Those born in the 1980s are the first post-war cohort not to start their working years with higher incomes than their immediate predecessors. Home ownership, the aspiration of successive generations of ordinary people, is in sharp decline among the young.
Britain’s deep social mobility problem, for this generation of young people in particular, is getting worse not better. The 20th century promise that each generation would be better off than the preceding one is being broken.”
The Institute of Employment Rights argues that the rise of inequality over the last 35 years has been brought about by the weakening of employment laws and trade union rights, thus leaving the poorest in society vulnerable to exploitation and encouraging business to compete on a race to the bottom on workers’ rights.
In our Manifesto for Labour Law – 25 recommendation for reform – 15 leading labour lawyers and academics explain how today’s labour law entrenches inequality and puts forth proposals as to how this trend can be reversed.Key to our recommendations is the restoration of sectoral collective bargaining, through which unions and employers negotiate at industry level for decent wages and conditions. This proposal was one of those adopted by the Labour Party in its 2017 General Election Manifesto.