News story

New polling published on public perceptions of social mobility

Polling finds the public believe 'who you know' matters more than 'what you know' in modern Britain


New light is shed on what the public thinks about fairness in Britain by polling carried out on behalf of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission published today.

Key findings include:

• 65 per cent of the public thought ‘who you know’ matters more than ‘what you know’;

• Three in four people said family background has significant influence on life chances in Britain today. When asked about the extent to which their own parents’ income or level of education had influenced where they had got to in life, people were less clear. Four in 10 thought that their parents’ income and education had influenced them and four in 10 thought it had not;

• Seven in 10 people thought a good education was the key to getting a good job but fewer people in Scotland (63 per cent) and Wales (59 per cent) believe that than in England (72 per cent). Across the UK nearly half of respondents think a good education remains out of the reach for most children from lower income families;

• When asked where government should be focusing its efforts to improve social mobility, the most commonly selected policies related to employment especially creating jobs and apprenticeships or helping unemployed young people to find work;

• Three in four thought that government should top up the incomes of the working poor while more than four in five (84 per cent) said that employers should be paying wages that better reflect the cost of living.

Commenting on the findings the Chair of the Commission Rt Hon Alan Milburn said:

These findings show the high levels of public concern about unfairness in Britain. Flatlining social mobility and rising child poverty is not a viable proposition for our country. Both government and employers should heed the call to pay decent wages to help the forgotten 5 million people who are the working poor

Published 24 June 2013