Our annual State of the Nation report was laid before the UK Parliament on 20 October. In it we assess the progress that the UK is making on improving social mobility and reducing child poverty and the contributions being made by institutions across society including: the UK Government, Scottish Government and Welsh Government; local government; employers and the professions; and schools, further education colleges and universities.
This is our last report before the 2015 UK General Election. As such it presents a verdict on the past and provides a window into the future. Our central conclusion is that the next Government will have to adopt radical new approaches to meet what we define as the “2020 Challenge” – tackling poverty, improving social mobility and stopping Britain becoming a permanently divided society.
We make 12 key recommendations for actions that can be taken to meet the 2020 Challenge:
- Supplement the existing child poverty targets with new measures to give a more rounded picture of poverty and publish a new timescale for achieving them.
- Ensure that welfare reforms and fiscal policies protect the working poor from the impact of austerity, including by empowering the Office for Budget Responsibility to report on each Budget’s impact on poverty and mobility.
- The UK to become a Living Wage country by 2025 at the latest, underpinned by a new national pay progression strategy and an expanded role for the Low Pay Commission.
- More shared ownership options for young people to get on the housing ladder and longer-term tenancies to become the norm for families with children in the private rented sector.
- New focus in the early years on ensure that children are school-ready at age five, with 85 per cent of children – including three quarters of the poorest children – school ready by 2020 and all by 2025.
- A national parenting campaign to be launched to help more parents become excellent parents, funded by removing childcare tax breaks from families where at least one parent earns more than £100,000 per year.
- Higher pay to get the best teachers into the worst schools in deprived areas of the country through a new Teachers’ Pay Premium and commissioning the School Teachers’ Review Body to develop new pay grades.
- Ending illiteracy and innumeracy among primary school leavers by 2025, with a new focus on quality careers advice, character development and extra-curricular activity in secondary school.
- Closing the attainment gap between poor children and others to be a priority so that by 2020 more than half of children entitled to free school meals are achieving five good GCSEs including English and maths, rising to two thirds by 2025.
- Long-term youth unemployment to be ended by 2020 through a package of measures, including half of all larger workplaces providing apprenticeships and a new Day One support service to help unemployed young people get straight back into work or education.
- Universities to use the removal of the student numbers cap to significantly close the access gap so that by 2020 they are aiming to admit 5,000 more students who were eligible for free school meals while at school, with Russell Group universities aiming to admit 3,000 more state school students and 1,400 more working-class students each year who have the grades but currently do not get the places.
- Unpaid internships to be ended – through new legislation if necessary.
Over the next few weeks we will be using this blog to explore some of the key themes, recommendations and analysis within our report and get your thoughts about what is necessary to meet the 2020 challenge and achieve our ambition of creating a low poverty and high social mobility society.