Local boroughs high for social mobility

Grafton House, Bow, Tower Hamlets. Pic: Mikey

Grafton House, Bow, Tower Hamlets. Pic: Mikey

Disadvantaged children in Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Lewisham have some of the best prospects in England, according to the country’s first ever index charting social mobility.

All three inner-London boroughs are placed in the top 20 local authorities in England when it comes to the chances of children from low income families doing well at school or getting a good job. The index, including data from over 300 local authorities, was compiled by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. It is the first piece of research to examine social mobility at a local level in such detail.

In the wake of David Cameron’s comments that Britain should be “a place where a good life is in reach for everyone who is willing to work”, researchers followed the educational progress of children from primary school right up to university. They also looked at opportunities in the local jobs and housing markets, then created rankings of local authorities. The top 20 per cent of areas were categorised as ‘social mobility hotspots’ and the lowest 20 per cent as ‘social mobility coldspots’.

Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Lewisham all came out of the study as ‘hotspots’ ranking 4, 6, and 13 in the national rankings. Croydon just made it into the top 40 – ranked at 39.

London in general came out on top in the UK, with children from disadvantaged backgrounds more likely to succeed in 30 out of the 32 London boroughs.

The research shows the capital and its commuter belt pulling away from the rest of the country, while Norwich, Worcester, Oxford, Cambridge and Northampton were among the worst-performing 20 per cent of areas.

The result is a new “geography of disadvantage” in England, according to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Chairman Alan Milburn, which “lays bare the local lottery in social mobility.”

He said it called into question conventional wisdom about where disadvantage is found. “It is shocking that many of the richest areas of the country are the ones failing their poorest children the most.”

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