It is not a surprise that the remaining members of the government’s Social Mobility Commission have resigned this weekend. Anger has been growing for months that the government has been distracted from improving individual lives by the demands of Brexit.
Shropshire is one of the worst areas in England for young people to get out of the trap of struggling households and poor education. Last week, the county was ranked the 237th worst out of 324 local authorities for social mobility. Just a year before, we were at rank 185. We have skidded downwards.
Social mobility is important. When it works, people from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds get on in life, gaining the education and skills they need and getting better paid jobs. But the latest data show that Shropshire is going backwards in the social mobility stakes.
The Social Mobility Commission, which compiles the data, has made it clear that the biggest problem that Shropshire faces is that it is failing to support young people. Our county now is almost at the bottom of the league table for youth in the social mobility rankings. We are ranked at position 292 out of the 324 English local authorities. That’s utterly dismal.
Young people living in poorer households are in our county failing to get access to further and higher education. Many of them are scared stiff by the lack of financial support and the loans needed to pay for their education. The paucity of higher education facilities in our county creates an environment where it is incredibly hard to inspire youngsters to go on to the future innovators and entrepreneurs.
It is shocking that just 1% of poorer young people in Shropshire go on to higher education. Compare that to London, where the average for the age group is around 10%. Across England, the average is 5%. Hear clearly, we are so badly behind we are failing young people in our county.
It isn’t right that young people growing up in more disadvantaged backgrounds in Shropshire don’t get as many chances to improve their life chances as those as other areas. We must do more to support their interests. That will not only good for young people. It could also give a huge boost our local economy.
. In this context, poverty is defined as children eligible for free school males. The latest data from the commission is for 2014/15.