Press release

Next steps for UK's first national measure of socio-economic background

An ambitious programme of work to understand the socio-economic backgrounds of workforces in the UK is making progress.


The Cabinet Office has released a full list of potential national common measures developed with major companies to help employers, including the Civil Service, to identify and boost social mobility in workplaces across the UK. The independent Bridge Group have provided advice and support to the Cabinet Office on this important development.

The Minister for Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, Matt Hancock, announced today that the government is seeking views on the measures with a view to implementing them later in 2016.

Respond to the consultation on socio-economic background measures.

Unlike many other measures of diversity, there is no agreed way of measuring socio-economic background between employers across the UK.

Dozens of major employers have been working with the Cabinet Office to create the list of new national common measures including Deloitte, Accenture, O2, Linklaters, KPMG, Barclays, EY, Baker & McKenzie, Grant Thornton, the Bank of England, Teach First, as well as a number of leading thinkers in this space - academics, the Social Mobility Commission and the Sutton Trust.

The potential measures include:

  • what postcode an individual lived in at a young age, for example secondary school age
  • whether they are eligible or have received free school meals
  • their parents’ professions, qualifications, and income or wealth
  • whether a parent, guardian or carer is eligible or receiving income support
  • whether an individual has access to internet at home whilst at secondary school
  • whether an individual is working during term time at University
  • proficiency in English (or language educated in)
  • highest qualification achieved
  • name or type of school attended
  • whether someone is living in area of deprivation
  • whether time has been spent in care or have been a carer
  • whether ever had refugee or asylum status

Matt Hancock said:

Social justice is at the heart of everything this one nation government is trying to achieve. Our goal is simple: to make sure everyone has the opportunity to succeed and make the most of their talents, whatever the circumstances of their birth.

We are tackling the last workplace taboo. We British don’t always like to discuss things like our parents’ background, particularly at work. But you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

We are determined to lead the way, which is why we are working with major employers to develop a national measure for social mobility so we can take action and break down barriers to employment.

The Civil Service is planning to begin using the new measures in the next 12 months, and the government will seek views on the measures before urging businesses and the rest of the public sector to follow suit.

Published 26 May 2016