Hackney and Tower Hamlets are among the top five areas in England for social mobility, according to a report published today.
The Social Mobility Commission ranked all local authority areas in England across a range of 16 social mobility indicators for “every major life stage”, from childhood to retirement. Tower Hamlets came third while Hackney came fifth. Westminster topped the list, with Kensington and Chelsea coming in at second place.
London boroughs accounted for nearly two-thirds of all social mobility hotspots in the report, whereas the Midlands were concluded to be the worst for social progress for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Lewisham came 34th and Croydon 40th.
Some of the most deprived areas managed to buck the trend by outperforming richer regions. The report highlighted that areas such as Tower Hamlets outperformed wealthier regions such as West Berkshire in offering economic and social opportunities.
The report revealed that London is providing greater opportunities for the disadvantaged than coastal and rural areas.
Commission chairman Alan Milburn said: “London and its outskirts are increasingly looking like a different country from the rest of Britain”.
Despite Hackney being the 11th most deprived borough in the UK, with over quarter of its children living in poverty, the report suggests that high-quality teaching has given children a greater opportunity to reach higher education and higher paying jobs. The report revealed that extra-curricular opportunities were also key for social mobility among young people.
The ‘Ready for School’ project which is being led by Hackney council is a programme where qualified teachers work with families who have children starting primary school to provide support in the transition and through the first year. Deputy Mayor Anntoinette Bramble, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: “The key strength of our programme is using a local, collaborative approach with key partners such as housing, the children’s centre, local schools and youth services, to improve life chances for children and young people.”
Hackney is characterised by its young working-age population, with 72 per cent of the population being of working age (16 to 64) and an overall employment rate of 69 per cent. The borough relies heavily on its “night-time economy” but has recently seen an increase in the technology sector. Three of the other major sectors include the professional, scientific & technical sector, information and communication, and the creative arts.
Tower Hamlets is also considered one of the most deprived areas in the capital, with over 23,000 people on the council’s housing waiting list. However, in terms of education, schools in the borough have gone from the worst in the UK to some of the best in the country. The report revealed a direct correlation between the availability of free school meals and the schools’ performance ratings.
The report uncovered a clear national divide, with many areas in London performing better than many other parts the country that are being left behind economically and socially.
Milburn said: “The country seems to be in the grip of a self-reinforcing spiral of ever-growing division. That takes a spatial form, not just a social one. There is a stark social mobility lottery in Britain today.”