Policy paper

2010 to 2015 government policy: social mobility

Updated 8 May 2015

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/improving-social-mobility-to-create-a-fairer-society Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.


In a fair society, what counts towards your success is how hard you work and the skills and talents you have - not who your parents are or where you come from. Children from poorer homes are far less likely to achieve their potential than other children, and who your parents are appears to have a bigger impact on your future in the UK than in many other countries.

We believe that no-one should be stopped from achieving their potential, so we intend to create an open society that gives fair chances to everyone.


Increasing social mobility is a challenging goal and not one that we can achieve working alone. We must work to remove barriers in every stage of life, to give people equal access to opportunities and help give second chances to those who need them.

Several government departments are working together to make important changes and provide services that will help improve social mobility.

Organisations outside of government are also playing their part, including schools, further education colleges, universities, businesses, professional bodies and a wide range of third sector and voluntary organisations.

We’ll work together to help make opportunities open to everyone - creating a fair society.

We’ll improve outcomes during the early years by:

  • working to give children a healthy start in life, including increasing the number of health visitors and doubling the capacity of the Family Nurse Partnership
  • improving the quality and range of education and childcare from birth to 5 years, including providing 15 hours of early years education per week for the most disadvantaged 2-year-olds
  • supporting and encouraging good parenting by improving the child maintenance system

We’ll improve outcomes for school-age children by:

  • raising achievement of disadvantaged children, including through the Pupil Premium
  • making schools and colleges more accountable and giving them more control over their budget
  • improving the quality of teaching and leadership
  • making inspections of schools, colleges and children’s services more effective

We’ll make it easier for young people to successfully move from school to work by:

  • improving the quality of further education and skills training
  • reforming qualifications and the curriculum to better prepare pupils for lifer after school
  • increasing opportunities for young people and helping them to achieve their potential
  • making the higher education system more efficient and diverse
  • providing nearly half a million employment and training opportunities for 18 to 24 year-olds through the Youth Contract
  • ensuring fair and open recruitment and wider access to the professions through the Business Compact

We’ll help people progress in the labour market and ensure they have second chances to succeed by:

  • making the labour market more flexible, efficient and fair
  • simplifying the welfare system and making sure work pays
  • helping people to find and stay in work
  • achieving strong and sustainable economic growth
  • boosting private sector employment in England
  • making vocational training more useful for people and businesses

We will continue to increase transparency and accountability, by:

  • measuring progress on improving social mobility and reporting through the social mobility indicators
  • making sure government departments work together effectively through the Informal Ministerial Group on Social Mobility
  • improving the quality of data through the Social Mobility Transparency Board and 2012 Birth Cohort Study


The Coalition agreement set out the government’s ambition to create ‘a Britain where social mobility is unlocked; where everyone, regardless of background, has the chance to rise as high as their talents and ambition allow them’.

We published ‘Opening doors, breaking barriers: a strategy for social mobility’ in April 2011. This document explained the government’s plans for improving social mobility as the most important goal of social policy. A year later, in May 2012, we reported progress made in ‘Opening doors, breaking barriers: a strategy for social mobility – update on progress since April 2011’.

We set up the Commission for Social Mobility and Child Poverty in 2011. Its task is to watch over the progress made by government and wider society with reducing child poverty and increasing social mobility. Alan Milburn was appointed Chair of the Commission in July 2012 and 8 other senior leaders joined the Board in December.

Read more about what we are doing to create a fairer and more equal society.

Measuring social mobility progress

We created a set of social mobility indicators within each of the 4 main stages of a person’s life. These indicators will help us see if we are improving social mobility, and if so, to what extent.

Who we’re working with

Many central government departments are involved in important work that helps to achieve social mobility:

Appendix 1: Social Mobility Business Compact

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Social Mobility Business Compact has the specific aim of giving all young people fair and open access to employment opportunities. The compact calls on businesses to:

  • raise aspirations in local schools and communities by offering mentoring, talks and other career and skills based activities
  • make sure of fair access to work experience and internship opportunities by paying the national minimum wage where appropriate or otherwise reasonable expenses
  • recruit openly and fairly, advertising opportunities instead of using informal networks

How to apply

If you would like to apply to be part of the Social Mobility Business Compact, please fill in the application form and send to socialmobilitybusinesscompact@bis.gsi.gov.uk.

The Social Mobility Business Compact factsheet is useful to businesses that are interested in the scheme and would like to know what signing up the compact involves. It also includes the criteria for becoming a Compact signatory.

Champion tier

The Champion tier builds on the success of the Social Mobility Business Compact and is an opportunity for businesses to lead the way on improving social mobility.

All Compact signatories were invited to apply for Champion status through an open competition. Twelve organisations have been awarded Champion status. These are:

The Champions are setting a benchmark for improving social mobility by agreeing to meet a set of more stretching criteria over 12 months to the end of December 2015.

Further information

More than 180 businesses have signed up to the Social Mobility Business Compact, from sectors including legal, retail, finance and energy.

Social Mobility Business Compact case studies shows the work businesses are already doing to help create fairness and equality in the workforce.

In November 2013, government recognised companies for creating fair opportunities for young people from all backgrounds, through the Opening Doors Awards. Our aim for the awards is to:

  • highlight best practice
  • show what’s possible
  • encourage and inspire other organisations

The Social Mobility Business Compact