LibLink: Nick Clegg and Iain Duncan Smith on social mobility

As part of the government’s launch of its social mobility strategy this week, Nick Clegg and Iain Duncan Smith co-authored a piece for the Daily Telegraph:

Labour couldn’t make up its mind on what goal it was chasing. Social exclusion? Income poverty? Inequality? Social mobility? Lacking a clear agenda, it fixated on just one measure of fairness – the poverty line, defined as 60 per cent of median income. This is a necessary part of the equation, but it is very far from sufficient.

Billions of pounds were spent by Labour moving people just above that line, without significantly changing their lives or the life chances of their children. Poverty plus a pound does not equal fairness.

Labour’s approach didn’t even work on its own terms. Since 2003, around £150 billion has been spent on tax credits – mostly on families with children – and yet progress on child poverty effectively stalled many years ago.

At the same time, working-age poverty has actually increased. That is why we are embarking on long-overdue welfare reform – to tackle the causes of poverty, rather than simply narrowly addressing the consequences.

Our welfare reforms are intended to help people get on, and to get ahead. And as a government, we have committed ourselves to promoting social mobility as the main goal of our social policy. For us, a fair society is an open society, one in which opportunities are not determined by background but by drive and ability.

You can read the full article here, though it still leaves a big question mark over quite what the government’s view is of the importance of overall levels of inequality – something on which the social mobility strategy document itself contained a curiously worded compromise.

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