Recently, the Social Mobility Commission chief, Dame Martina Milburn, claimed that the huge cuts we’ve seen to schools, council houses, and support for families haven’t harmed the life chances for people. I don’t think that’s a great start, when the opposite is clearly true.
She doesn’t think that lower pay for women is an issue for her commission, because “it doesn’t just affect people who are socially mobile”.
Isn’t the point of the job to aim to get decent life chances for everyone? The cross-party Education Committee has reportedly expressed concern about the role of the social mobility commissioner, and her comments only make things worse.
What a pity.
It’s reported that Dame Martina only applied for the job after the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, phoned her personally to encourage her. It doesn’t give us hope that her new Commission will challenge the Tories, as it should.
Today, we have more families than ever reliant on food banks and charities tell us that holiday hunger for kids is rife.
The Government’s own statistics show 100,000 more children in poverty, just in the last year.
And let’s remember, the vast majority of the 4.1 million children in poverty today have a mum or dad in work.
Things are so bad, and the Government so unresponsive, that last December the Government’s previous Social Mobility Commission resigned, all of them. They had no confidence that the Government was actually listening to them.
The previous Chair, Alan Milburn (no relation), was so disgusted with the empty words and callous actions of the Government that he said: “It’s almost better never to say that you’ll do anything about it.”
We need the Government to be responsible for ensuring we all get the opportunity of decent life chances – with ministerial accountability to drive forward a strategy across every department.
We need to ensure the Government works for all people - from schools and apprenticeships, to affordable trains and buses; to the creation of real jobs with decent pay and a living wage for all.
Most of all, we need someone to knock heads together in the Department for Work and Pensions.
We don’t need Esther McVey to spend £200,000 of our money to discover that Universal Credit has been devastating for thousands and thousands of families. We just need the benefits system fixed.
Labour puts social justice for all at the heart of our plans so we can transform our country for the many not the few.