Column: social mobility

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 10th May:

Social mobility is something I’ve spoken about several times in my column in the past.

And I make no apologies for doing so again.

Because I passionately believe that people’s ability to get on in life should not be determined by the postcode they were born in.

It’s simply not fair that people born in our town do not receive the same chances and opportunities in life as those born elsewhere.

Just because someone has lived their whole life in Worsbrough rather than Windsor should not mean they will live around a decade shorter.

Just because a child is born in Cudworth rather than Chelsea should not mean they are five times less likely to go on to university.

Just because someone grows up in Barnsley rather than Buckinghamshire, should not mean they have a one-in-four chance of growing up in poverty.

And yet, this is the case.

Just last week I was fortunate to meet the new principal of Barnsley College, Mr Koursis.

We spoke about the students there, and the belief that many of them have that their aspirations are limited.

No child should be limited in their aspirations of what they can accomplish, and I was delighted to hear Mr Koursis’ plans to tackle those attitudes and inspire learners.

But it’s no wonder people feel like that.

In their recent report, the Social Mobility Commission stated inequality is fully entrenched from birth in places like Barnsley.

For instance, if you’re born better off you’re 80 percent more likely to end up in a professional job than someone from a working class background.

And those from disadvantaged backgrounds who do land those jobs will still earn significantly less.

I don’t think any of this will be news to people in Barnsley.

Nor, I’m sure, will the Commission’s conclusion: that the Government needs to take urgent action.

That means investment in our schools to give children here the best possible start from birth.

In our economy, so people aren’t stuck for life in low-paid, insecure jobs with no prospect of development.

And in our healthcare system, where world-class care can be given from cradle to grave. 

So that’s why I’ll keep banging the drum for Barnsley and fighting until the opportunities for people here at the very least match those elsewhere.