01/03/2012 10:12 GMT | Updated 01/03/2012 11:10 GMT

Social Mobility Progress 'Depressing', Says Tory MP Damian Hinds

The coalition has come under attack from one of its own MPs for the “yawning gap” that exists between the rich and poor.

Conservative MP Damian Hinds, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility, said he was depressed at progress.

“It’d appear that things have not improved. Social mobility has stalled, at best. [We are] less mobile than most of our major competitors, that’s bad enough, but more depressingly it has gone down," he said.

"There is less social mobility than for the previous generation”

Hinds was speaking on Thursday afternoon at an event on British society hosted by the think-tank Reform. He complained about the “gap” in opportunity, calling for “analytical rigour” in deciding what can help “raise prospects”.

The coalition has placed great emphasis on tackling social mobility, with Nick Clegg spearheading the government's drive to help the disadvantaged "move up the ladder of opportunity".

Appearing alongside Hinds, Labour MP Frank Field warned that it is “so hard to win change” when dealing with public sector reform.

Field, who is leading an independent review of poverty and life chances, said he was “deeply depressed” with the prospects of improving the public sector.

“I am deeply gloomy about how we bring about change within the existing structure and the frame of mind for public servants. We both speak English, but their ability to grasp the meaning of what I say is very very difficult," he said.

Field strongly criticised the structure of government as very hard to change. “The political process is tentatively adapting to change” he said, “it is inbred to look backwards rather than forwards”.

Liz Kendall, shadow minister for care and older people, expressed concern that change and "debate" would be hard to achieve due to the “fraught media climate”.

The conference comes at a time when the new head of the Civil Service, Sir Bob Kerslake, is tasked with undertaking major public sector reforms, whilst simultaneously cutting the civil service, particularly at Whitehall.