Report Warns Of “Treadmill Families” Who Are “Running Harder But Standing Still”

A report by the Social Mobility Commission has warned the government about a worrying trend of “treadmill families” who are “running harder and harder but standing still”.

The study highlights a “deep social mobility problem” in Britain which has resulted in an unfair education system, a two-tier labour market, a regionally imbalanced economy and unaffordable housing.

Young families can now no longer expect to do as well as their parents’ generation, with fault-lines of wealth and opportunity now patently obvious.

Commission chair Alan Milburn says: “So many families are struggling to get by, let alone get up”. In a nod to Brexit and the developments in America, he added: “We know from the history of our own continent, when people feel they are losing out unfairly, the mood can turn ugly.”

The commission also noted that:

  • A child living in one of England’s most disadvantaged areas is 27 times more likely to go to an inadequate school than a child in the most advantaged areas.
  • Young people from low-income homes are one-third more likely to drop out of education than better-off classmates with similar GCSEs.
  • Those born in the 1980s are the first post-war cohort not to start their working lives on higher salaries than their immediate predecessors.
  • A widening divide between the big cities – particularly London – and the many towns and counties being “left behind economically and hollowed-out socially”.
  • Millions of workers – particularly women – are trapped in low pay
  • Only one in eight children from low-income backgrounds is likely to become a high-income earner as an adult
  • From the early years through to universities and the workplace, there is an entrenched and unbroken correlation between social class and success
  • Despite some efforts to change the social make-up of the professions, only four per cent of doctors, six per cent of barristers and 11 per cent of journalists are from working-class backgrounds.

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