Social mobility

MQT on 2016-12-14
Session date: 
December 14, 2016
Question By: 
Fiona Twycross
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


What steps are you taking to tackle the worsening social mobility problem in London?


Answer for Social mobility

Answer for Social mobility

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you for your question, Assembly Member Twycross.  Boosting social mobility in London - therefore, all Londoners get to benefit from the opportunities the city has to offer - is crucial.  That is why I have appointed Matthew Ryder to be London’s first Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement.  We are bringing forward a programme of work around economic fairness including a business compact to promote the London Living Wage, tackle the agenda pay gap, create more opportunity through apprenticeships and take steps to ensure a fair deal for parents returning to work.


Promoting economic fairness will also mean addressing the factors that can help people back, such as the effects of living in poverty or financial exclusion.  Matthew will also be leading on the development of the new equalities framework of the GLA group which will identify the biggest challenges that different groups of Londoners face and outline the GLA’s role in tackling them.


My education team are working on education attainment and on narrowing the gaps and outcomes for disadvantaged groups as well as improving the length between schools and work though the London Ambitions Careers Office.


The confirmation in the Autumn Statement that London will get control over the adult education budget from 1920 will help ensure a more responsive skill system in the capital.  We are still pursuing wider skills devolutions for 16-to-18-year olds.


I am committed to working with a whole range of sectors - business, government, local authorities, civil society and voluntary organisations - that share my determination and commitment to promote equality in London.


Fiona Twycross AM:  Thank you.  As you will be aware, the Social Mobility Commission recently released its State of the Nation report on social mobility which demonstrates that this is an issue that is not just bad but is getting considerably worse and there is a risk of a whole generation of young people across Britain and in London being left behind.


What is your priority for this area?  Is it education or is it working with business or is there one thing that you have specifically tasked Matthew Ryder, who, I agree, is a very welcome appointment?  Is there one priority you have given him for this area?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Can I just highlight?  For me, what the most startling thing about the Social Mobility Commission’s report is the report found that only one child in eight from a low-income background is likely to become a high-income adult.  People born in 1980 are the first post‑war cohort not to start their working lives with higher incomes than their immediate predecessors.


The London promise has always been this: you will be better off than the last generation.  That is the London promise but the London promise cannot be met.  That is why it is a scandal and it has to be addressed which is why we appointed, for the first time ever, a Deputy Mayor for Social Mobility, Social Integration and Community Engagement.


We have to make sure we fulfil young people’s potential.  There is no one silver bullet.  Part of that is skilling up those youngsters for the jobs of tomorrow, particularly past‑Brexit.  Part of it is ensuring that a question, something Assembly Member Leonie Cooper alluded to, we do not have youngsters living in houses that are cold, cramped, overcrowded, that you would know about.  Part of that is fixing the housing crisis.  If you are sharing a bedroom with two siblings, it is not just you cannot bring your mates around or you cannot do your homework and are moving every year, as Assembly Member Copley referred to, in temporary accommodation.  How many of your life chances are fulfilled?  If there is a consequence of the Government’s welfare benefit changes to leave London and go to outer London, travelling an hour-and-a-half to get to school each day each way, how many of your life chances are fulfilled?  There is a complex problem.  I do not have one answer in relation to a silver bullet.  That is why we have to work with key stakeholders, local authority, councils, schools and others to make sure we address this problem.


Fiona Twycross AM:  Yes.  I would agree it is vital to break the cycle and reverse the trend.  I just wanted to highlight something from my own experience.  Until recently, I was chair of the London Academy in Schooling in the constituency of my colleague, Florence Eshalomi.  I was privileged to see how the school was determined to ensure every single child had the opportunities and resilience to achieve their personal best through careers advice, through support and through work experience.  It was the partnerships between business and the schools that was doing most to open up the world to some of the young people.


I am concerned that potential changes to the funding formula for education and the move towards grammar schools, which, on face value, is said to be around increasing social mobility, but we know that the opposite is true.  How are you lobbying the Government to make sure that we protect some of the work that our schools in London are doing in this area?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  On schools, as a consequence of representations by Assembly Member Arnold, I wrote to Justine Greening [Secretary of State for Education], as we discussed, in relation to and raised a number of things.  One is grammar schools and what our experience of grammar schools is in London with evidence.  Secondly, lobbying about the change in education formula funding.  One of the reasons why our schools have gone from being some of the least good to some of the best is the investment we gave to the schools.  If we were to move that investment to other parts of the country without replacing it, it could mean our schools do less good.  The good news is that MPs from all sides across London and all councils get it and I am lobbying the Government.


The second thing is for us to understand the consequences.  One of these young people could have a cure for cancer but they are not being given the helping hand to fulfil their potential to become a scientist.  One of these young people could well be the next Nobel Laureate or could be somebody who becomes a massive employer, employing tens of thousands of people.  Unless their potential is fulfilled, they are never going to realise their potential.  The good news is the private sector gets it.


The good news is the private sector gets it. The good news is we have had very positive responses from the private sector about the business compact, whether it is them doing assemblies in inner-city schools to inspire young people, to their mentoring, paid apprenticeships and more being middle-weight employers, therefore, I am optimistic but it is real important we understand these are complex issues.  It needs a team effort from the Government, local government, private sector and others to make sure we reverse the conclusions of the Commission’s report.


Fiona Twycross AM:  Absolutely.  Thank you.