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Alan Milburn calls for action on social mobility at Salford Lecture series


Alan Milburn calls for action on social mobility at Salford Lecture series

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Rt Hon Alan Milburn, Chair of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, called on government, employers and educators to do more to address Britain’s poor record on social mobility in the first of this year’s Salford Lecture Series, hosted by the University of Salford at its MediaCityUK campus yesterday evening (Monday 22 September).

As Chair of the Commission, which advises the Department for Education, the former Health Secretary, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is responsible for its work in advocating the social mobility agenda and monitoring the progress of government and other national and regional bodies in improving social mobility and reducing child poverty.

He used the lecture, entitled ‘How to make Britain a socially mobile nation’, to assess where Britain stands today in terms of social mobility and examined global and historical evidence to understand what gives rise to higher levels of mobility.

Mr Milburn said that UK child poverty reduction goals would be missed and that social mobility is likely to go into reverse. He suggested that a ‘social recovery’ was needed alongside the economic recovery, with child poverty shifting over the last 20 years from a problem of the workless to a problem of the working poor.

He concluded by considering what key stakeholders, including schools and universities, government, the voluntary sector and employers, need to do to improve the nation’s rates of social mobility, saying that everyone had a responsibility to break open the ‘closed shop’ of the professions and to expand the middle class.

Professor Maggie Pearson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Public Benefit at the University’s College of Health and Social Care, said: “We were delighted to welcome Alan Milburn to deliver the first Salford Lecture of the new academic year. The timing of this event could not have been better, following so swiftly on the publication of the important research report 'Elitist Britain' in August, by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, which Alan Milburn chairs.

“Alan’s lecture allowed us to explore these issues further and their implications for the future of our country, but also the opportunities and barriers that continue to face many of our young people.

“The majority of Salford's students are 'first in family' to attend higher education and many have faced a number of challenges in reaching higher education. We are proud of the tradition and impact that this University has on social mobility and intend for this to continue as a key defining characteristic of the University of Salford experience.”