Tag Archives: social mobility

The best way to answer Coalition guilt-shaming is to challenge austerity and poverty today, head-on

The election of a new Liberal Democrat leader has been followed by a predictable burst of accusations and guilt-shaming – mostly, but not only, from Labour sources – regarding the Lib Dems’ part in the Coalition, cuts and austerity. Responses on Liberal Democrat Voice and in other Lib Dem groups have often followed a familiar pattern too. A fair amount of irritated defensiveness. A lot of detailed discussion of the financial situation in 2010, deficit levels, etc. Sometimes a feel of this being a rather theoretical economic argument a bit far away, only raised to torment us.

I think this is to miss the point. The best way to get over endless guilt-shaming and raking-over of the Coalition is not to get sucked into circular arguments over just what part any Lib Dem minister played in this or that decision in 2014 but to say very clearly we’ve moved on, there are urgent matters to be dealt with, and that today, in the here and now, 2019, the Liberal Democrats see poverty as a real crisis, care about it and are prepared to tackle it.

What doesn’t leap out from current Lib Dem responses is any sense of urgency. An urgent awareness that there is an atrocious crisis of poverty in this country, and it’s getting worse. Galloping homelessness, thousands dependent on food banks, more and more people in work but so poorly paid and so insecure they barely keep going. Public health indicators that had been improving for decades now stalled or going backwards, as the United Nations’ Alston Report on Poverty in the UK highlighted.

And behind this worsening poverty are some very old ideas, like the assumption that anyone in need of support is potentially a ‘scrounger’ culpable for their own poverty who needs to be kept in check through such things as the benefit sanctions regime.

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21 May 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Moran: Let’s hope more Universities follow Oxford’s diversity drive
  • Hobhouse: End short prison sentences to cut crime
  • Cable: Stop Brexit altogether to end turmoil for British business
  • Chancellor’s warning must trigger No Deal U-turn
  • Cable: Lib Dems “now indisputably the strongest remain party”
  • Lamb: Govt must end abuse of our most vulnerable
  • With no guarantee of a People’s Vote the PM will get no support from the Lib Dems
  • Jenny Randerson: Brexit endangers devolution settlement

Moran: Let’s hope more Universities follow Oxford’s diversity drive

Responding to the news that Oxford University is set to overhaul its recruitment processes, and will commit that at least 25% of students will be …

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Book Review: The End of Aspiration? by Duncan Exley

Subtitled Social mobility and our children’s fading prospects, Duncan Exley’s book explores the facts and myths around aspiration. Referencing many studies, linked with real-life stories of people who have moved from rag-to-riches, Exley asks how far the UK is from being an ‘opportunity’ society and whether social mobility should be a priority of policy-makers.

Duncan Exley is the former Director of the Equality Trust. In his book, he delves into issues of equality and poverty, probing the real factors behind people not being able to attain the life they would like to live.

Recently, I toured a secondary school in North Devon with the headteacher. I asked her what the biggest issue was for the young people there. She told me, without hesitation, lack of aspiration. She explained that many of her pupils came from families which could not afford to travel outside of the town, not to mention the county. Pupils stayed in school as long as they were required to and then left for local jobs. She had started taking groups of pupils to Oxford open days and was proud that several now were at Oxford and other universities. But she said one of the hurdles she faced was lack of funding for school trips so that young people could experience the bigger world outside of their own community.

This is one of the many themes Exley tackles – how to give young people from more deprived circumstances the opportunities to explore, experience and participate in the bigger world.

Creating opportunities, however, is not enough. Exley looks at the biology of poverty and cites studies which link the nutrition of grandparents to the birth weight and health of babies. Low birth weight has been linked to poorer attainment. A healthy population is one which can thrive, and child poverty must be tackled. Exley notes the effect of health on career progression:

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Demand Better: Liberal Democrat Priorities for a Better Britain

For as long as I’ve been active in politics people have complained they don’t know what we stand for. We may have a reasonable profile for our position on Brexit, but the fact that we’re only the fourth party in terms of MPs makes it even more difficult than usual to gain media attention.

On top of that, the party has more than doubled in size over the last two and a half years, so we have a large number of new or newish members who aren’t as familiar as many of us with the details of party policy or our key priorities for action.

So over the last six months the Federal Policy Committee has worked to produce the paper Demand Better: Liberal Democrat Priorities for a Better Britain, which is available here and will be debated at our autumn conference at Brighton.

We’ve written the paper in close cooperation with the party’s campaigns and communications committees and staff, and we’re using the party’s new slogan as the paper’s title. Demand Better summarises the Liberal Democrat approach to politics in 2018 and highlights our key policy priorities. Should a general election take place in the next year or so, it will provide the core of the Liberal Democrat election manifesto.

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WATCH: Nick Clegg say that Brexit is a monumental waste of time

From the Belfast Telegraph, watch the Cleggster speak at a Conference in Bath about social mobility and Brexit:

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LibLink Layla Moran: Public school exam cheating row shows just how unlevel the playing field is

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran has been writing for Times Red Box about the exam cheating scandal and why it matters.

These are not victimless crimes. I feel especially sorry for those students whose grades were nullified. They were only doing what their teacher said and their future has now been compromised. The teachers involved should feel ashamed. There is also a wider societal impact. More people than expected gaining high grades can ultimately lead to grade inflation and then a re-banding of passes, making it harder for other pupils to gain a good result.

But there is a broader question of unfairness here. Pupils from state schools are already massively pushing up hill on that famous playing field (assuming, of course, their playing field has not been sold off to balance the books by a cash-strapped education authority).

Layla has some suggestions for action:

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Claire Tyler writes: Breaking through the class ceiling

Too often, success in accessing our top professions is down to the lucky accident of birth. Too often, structural inequalities mean that young children find themselves imprisoned on an inescapable path. By the age of five, there is a clear academic attainment gap between children from rich and poor families. This increases throughout school. The benefits of being born to wealthy parents do not just accrue to the talented – in fact, less-able, better-off kids are 35% more likely to become high earners than bright poor youngsters. The resultant domination of our top professions like medicine, law, finance and the arts by the elite and independently educated is staggering.

The case for social mobility is not just a moral one. It also makes business sense. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in 2010 found that failing to improve low levels of social mobility will cost the UK economy up to £140 billion a year by 2050. Some top businesses understand this, and are working hard to widen access.

More must be done to widen access to elite professions; on the part of schools, universities, businesses and the government. This is the conclusion of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Mobility, of which I am co-Chair, and which released its report this week. Titled ‘The Class Ceiling’, the report is the culmination of a detailed inquiry, with the help of the Sutton Trust, over the last year. The inquiry looked at the causes and extent of the problem, investigated what is currently being done, and recommended tangible policy actions.

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Nick Clegg chairs meeting on educational inequality in Sheffield

Back in January, the Social Market Foundation, a think tank, established its cross-party Commission on Inequality in Education. It wants to tackle the disparity of attainment and break down barriers it identified relating to where you live, your family’s income and your ethnicity.

Yesterday, Nick chaired a meeting  of the Commission at Sheffield Hallam University.

Nick said:

On launching the commission, our research showed that where young people live now has more impact on their performance at school than used to be the case.

It is not just the relative wealth of parents that holds lots of bright kids back: it is postcode inequality too. What part of the country a child grows up in has a real impact on their life chances.

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Claire Tyler writes…We need to invest in all our young people

When it comes to the big debates on education, invariably the focus is on schools and universities. It’s all about academic success, exam league tables and access to higher education. On the rare occasions that the focus isn’t on institutions, it’s on apprenticeships. The attention governments of all hues have paid to these flagship policies have obscured one very important fact: the majority of young people—53%—do not follow the ‘traditional’ academic route into work.

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LibLink: Clare Tyler: Why the class gap is holding back state school students

Private schools educate 7% of pupils, but account for 42.5% of Oxford students. This statistic, according to Baroness Clare Tyler, puts the UK behind even Harvard, the most elite US university.

She wrote for the Huffington Post in the wake of a damning report on social mobility in the UK.

At Oxford, the percent of state school students hasn’t budged since 2002. And today, just 14.3% of Oxford’s students come from the bottom half of households by income. Whilst one in five children are on free school meals, this can be said of just one in a 100 Oxbridge graduates.

She argued that universities and government must do more to make sure that people’s circumstances of their birth don’t define their future.

Making our best universities more accessible is only one of the many steps we need to take to create a fairer and more socially mobile society. It’s not that our bright low-income students aren’t working hard–in fact, research shows that state school students in Russell Group universities with the same A level grades are 50% more likely to graduate with a first class degree compared to their independent school peers.

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Nick Clegg welcomes Milburn social mobility and child poverty report

Oliver TwistPresenting a report laid before parliament today, the coalition’s social mobility tsar Alan Milburn said “child poverty is a problem for working families rather than the workless or the work-shy.”

Entrenched poverty remains a priority for action but transient poverty, growing insecurity and stalling mobility are far more widespread than politicians, employers and educators have so far recognised.

The nature of poverty has changed. Today child poverty is overwhelmingly a problem facing working families, not the workless or the work-shy. Two-thirds of Britain’s poor children are now in households where an adult works. The problem is that those working parents simply do not earn enough to escape poverty.

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Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: ‘Opening Doors’ so that every young person deserves a great start in life

Nick Clegg has made social mobility — the aim that everyone should be able to make of their lives what they want regardless of where they come from — his driving mission as Deputy Prime Minister. It’s a big aim and one he knows will be difficult to achieve. His latest attempt to progress it is the Opening Doors Campaign, asking all businesses to sign up to ensure they ‘recruit fairly and openly, looking at people’s talent not their background’. In this week’s letter he explains why he thinks this is so important…

libdem letter from nick clegg

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Nick Clegg launches Opening Doors Awards

Nick CleggNick Clegg has long championed improving life chances for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. As he said on this morning’s Call Clegg:

My dad helped me. I was very lucky. But is shouldn’t be all about luck. That’s what we need to address.

He said that bright kids from poorer backgrounds were being overtaken at school by less bright children from more affluent backgrounds by the time they were 7 and the problem continues as they decide on their careers. If you’re from a poorer background, you don’t have the connections to land you the best opportunties. Remedying that problem is what’s behind the Opening Doors campaign which 150 companies have signed up to. Yesterday Nick launched the Opening Doors awards, which aim to find the best examples of reaching those bright young people and giving them the help they need. It’s a very strong example of the least heard but most important part  of the Trinity of Liberal Democrat Mantras – enabling everyone to get on in life.

There are a number of categories in the awards, from best outreach, to most inspirational young person to a Deputy Prime Minister’s excellence award which “will be given to the organisation who has excelled in setting the standard and communicating the case for social mobility.”

This is Nick’s video launching the awards which is also available here on You Tube:

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“Is the coalition government doing enough to encourage social mobility?”

social-mobilityThat was the question I was asked to answer for a new magazine, The New Idealist (available online here). Here’s what I said…

Social mobility: it’s a phrase much-beloved by politicians from all three parties. Who, after all, can possibly disagree with the fine sentiments of Nick Clegg in his social mobility strategy paper, Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers (April 2011)?

In Britain today, life chances are narrowed for too many by the circumstances of their birth: the home they’re born into, the neighbourhood they grow up in or the jobs their

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Baroness Tyler writes… Developing character and resilience in young people

The Social Mobility All Party Parliamentary Group have been working since 2011 to get an in-depth understanding of what it is that enables some people to get ahead in life whilst others fall behind and aren’t able make the most of their abilities and potential.

What became glaring to us through our report on “The Seven Key Truths of Social Mobility” published last year was the importance of so-called “soft skills”, an area all too often neglected in the social mobility debate. To shine a spotlight on this neglected area we held a Character and Resilience Summit yesterday in Admiralty House …

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The Independent View: Fair access to the professions – where the legal profession leads, others must follow

Old Bailey: the scales of justiceShortly after becoming Deputy Prime Minister in 2010, Nick Clegg made an important speech in which he said that the Government’s agenda would be to create “a more prosperous economy and a fairer… more socially mobile society”. The legal profession is making a vital contribution to this mission.

A more socially mobile society

The legal services sector is at the forefront of efforts to increase social mobility. The Law Society is adamant that the solicitors’ profession must have access to the best talent, irrespective of background. Indeed, that is why we and our members have been working on the issue for so long.

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Nick Clegg gives the William Beveridge lecture

Nick Clegg gives the William Beveridge lecture

Speaking at the at Social Liberal Forum Conference 2012 on Saturday morning, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg gave the William Beveridge memorial lecture. Here are my tweets of the event, interspersed with some links to older blog posts that expanded on some of the issues which came up.

Storified by Mark Pack · Sat, Jul 14 2012 10:25:17

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Is education the key to social mobility?

We’ve all read the statistics: in the United Kingdom, 7% of the population who were educated in independent schools make up 95% of our politicians, judges, journalists and business bosses. And let’s not forget our actors and sports stars. You’re twenty times more likely to play cricket for England if your parents mortgaged themselves to send you to a private school.

But do we all want to be Yuppies? Not everyone wants to be a politician, judge or journalist, many are thankfully still in possession of their full set of faculties. Moreover, our average western society requires roughly 20%

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The Liberal Democrats need a core votes strategy

Nick Clegg’s summer tour has one major aim: to reassure, to charm and to motivate Liberal Democrat members and supporters. The risk is that it is done on the basis that all he needs do is meet people, face their questions head on and question by question provide good answers.

The ability to win over people one question at a time has served Nick Clegg well in his ascent up the political ladder, as the key election contests for him have not been winning a council seat from nowhere or a close-fought marginal seat contest at a general election. Rather for …

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LDVideo: Clegg – Britain must shake off ‘snobbish’ class attitudes

Nick Clegg today spoke of his aim to boost social mobility at a conference organised by the Sutton Trust, arguing Britain must create an open society “where what matters most is the person you become, not the person you were born.”

“These are challenging times but that doesn’t mean we can give up on making society fairer and helping people get on in life. In the past year, since we published the Government’s first social mobility strategy, we’ve made great progress – school children are benefiting from a cash injection through the Pupil Premium, young people are getting into jobs and training through the Youth Contract, and we’re expanding the number of families who get free childcare.

“We must create a more dynamic society. One where what matters most is the person you become, not the person you were born. Government cannot do this alone, but we must take the lead. So we’re exposing the stark gaps in life chances by publishing a wide range of tracking data to show how well society is doing here and now. No government has done this. The data shows we’ve got a long way to go, but that’s why it’s there – to hold a flame to our feet until the gaps close. It’s not an overnight fix, but it is a long term ambition that is achievable.”

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The Independent View: social mobility begins at birth

As Nick Clegg bangs the social mobility drum today at the Sutton Trust announcing social trackers to measure fairness in society, we welcome his re-affirmation that social mobility matters. At Family Action our work with disadvantaged and vulnerable families, means that every day our workers witness the fundamental unfairness of some children’s circumstances.

The pupil premium and the extension of Sure Start to two–year olds are important policy wins. But Family Action is concerned that the Coalition is missing the boat by not focusing enough on babyhood and the first steps in early intervention. A wealth of neuroscientific and …

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‘Nick Clegg sets out plans to break private schools’ grip on establishment’

Nick Clegg has long championed the pupil premium, new money allocated to schools to help boost the educational chances of children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. Today’s Guardian reports how he plans in a major speech on Monday to emphasise its importance in improving social mobility in the UK:

Nick Clegg will next week set out long-term plans to break the grip of private schools on the British establishment when he publishes proposals for a surge in social mobility based on the “pupil premium”. … Clegg, launching a two-week drive on social mobility, which he sees as one of the

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Baroness Tyler writes… To improve social mobility, we need to shine a spotlight on early years

One of the fascinating things I have discovered since joining the Lib Dem group in the Lords last year is the profusion of all party groups in Parliament on virtually every subject under the sun. There are quite simply hundreds of them including some pretty bizarre ones ! About a year ago I decided to join the cross party group on social mobility – a key interest of mine since my time in central government as the Head of the Social Exclusion Unit. On Tuesday we launched our first report at a packed event in hosted by the Policy …

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Nick Clegg: Nanny state? No. State nannies? Yes

Interviewed in today’s Independent on Sunday, Nick Clegg has called for 65,000 nursery workers to be recruited as part of his social mobility drive:

“Every parent wants their child to do better than they did, and every parent wants their child to fulfil their potential,” he said.

State intervention to teach children as young as two will form the centrepiece of his “obsession” which will see childcare made the coalition’s highest priority social policy. Next month he will make a major announcement on his “passion” for shared parental leave and for extending the rights of flexible working.

And he pledged to take

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Nick Clegg’s social mobility drive wins backing from banks and law firms

The Evening Standard reports:

Banks and law firms in London today backed Nick Clegg’s campaign to open up recruitment to all social backgrounds.

The Deputy Prime Minister announced that Barclays, HSBC, Credit Suisse, RBS and a string of other City institutions have signed up to his “business compact” on internships, work experience and recruitment…

“This is an important step towards a society where it’s what you know, not who you know, that counts,” Mr Clegg said.

“Working with the

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The Independent View: Now is not the time to debate niceties about constitutional reform

In an attempt to repair his Party’s battered poll ratings and diminished credibility following the veto and its aftermath, Nick Clegg has launched the concept of the ‘Open Society’ into the public domain. It mixes important ideas with a sense of a motherhood and apple pie shopping list.

It’s hard to see how the Open Society concept, with its nods to Karl Popper and Isaiah Berlin, will resonate outside of Westminster at a time of increasing economic concern. When people’s major concerns are the cost of energy bills, the cost of living and worries about unemployment and job security, it …

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Farewell alarm clocks and hello John Major: Nick Clegg’s new strategy

In his speech yesterday Nick Clegg said, “We want a truly open society, in which every man and woman will be able to go as far as their talent, ambition and effort take them”.

Oh wait, hang on.

Sorry, wrong speech.

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Jeremy Browne: absolutely right

From an interview the Liberal Democrat Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne gave the Evening Standard this week:

I think there is a danger that we are defined by a relatively small set of issues that are relevant and significant but do not give a rounded picture of what the Liberal Democrats are in government in order to achieve.

As he rightly says, there’s a danger in the events of 2011 that the party ends up leaving just that impression:

It would be a mistake for the Lib-Dems to come to be known in the public minds as the party that in 2011

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The Independent View: There are now two main government narratives about child poverty

It’s been said that Margaret Thatcher’s governments did two things for poverty. First they increased it. Then they pretended it did not exist. As Alan Milburn prepares to makes his first speech as the Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty on Tuesday, his task will be to help the Coalition avoid a similar, devastating, legacy.

The last government’s record was far from perfect, but Milburn should advise the Coalition to recognise the very real progress made and learn from the successes just as much as from the failings.

Some Ministers, including Lib Dems, have bizarrely trashed the last government’s

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The Independent View: Educational disadvantage is one of the most unjust and pervasive problems

The link between family income and educational attainment is greater in the UK than in almost any other developed country. We must all be concerned with a situation where 96% of young people educated in independent schools progress to university, but only 16% of pupils eligible for free school meals make the same progression. This statistic should be hugely troubling to anyone who believes in a society of equal opportunities.

The evidence shows that even when children start school at age five on a reasonably even footing, those from disadvantaged backgrounds begin to diverge dramatically from their peers in terms of attainment.

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