Press release

Rt Hon Alan Milburn's statement on opportunity areas

Response to announcement by Education Secretary Justine Greening on new opportunities areas to support children and young people


Responding to Education Secretary Justine Greening’s announcement yesterday (4 October 2016) of new opportunity areas to support children and young people in disadvantaged areas, the Rt Hon Alan Milburn, Chair of the Social Mobility Commission said:

There is a new geography of disadvantage in Britain - where the chances of a child doing well in life depends massively on where they come from, rather than where they aspire to get to.

If social mobility is to take off, much more needs to be done to create a level playing field of opportunity in our country. That requires action in the labour market, in regional policy and in education. The initiative by the Education Secretary to create opportunity areas in some of the social mobility ‘cold spots’ identified by the Commission’s Social Mobility Index is a welcome step.

We hope that local communities in these areas will work closely with the government to ensure that future progress in life depends on an individual’s aptitude and ability, not background.

Notes to editors

  1. The Social Mobility Commission is an advisory, non-departmental public body established under the Life Chances Act 2010 as modified by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016. It has a duty to assess progress in improving social mobility in the United Kingdom and to promote social mobility in England. It currently consists of 4 commissioners and is supported by a small secretariat.

  2. The commission board currently comprises:

  • Alan Milburn (chair)
  • Baroness Gillian Shephard (deputy chair)
  • Paul Gregg, Professor of Economic and Social Policy, University of Bath
  • David Johnston, Chief Executive of the Social Mobility Foundation
  1. The functions of the commission include:
  • monitoring progress on improving social mobility
  • providing published advice to ministers on matters relating to social mobility
  • undertaking social mobility advocacy
  1. For more information call Kirsty Walker on 020 7227 5371
Published 5 October 2016