Public attitudes towards social mobility and in-work poverty

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Great Britain. Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission
Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission
Date of publication
1 June 2013
Social Policy, Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion
Social welfare
Material type

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This research was undertaken to explore current attitudes to factors related to social mobility and in-work poverty among the general public. It used a TNS/BMRB omnibus survey with a representative sample of 2,272 adults (aged 16+) across England, Scotland and Wales. Key findings include:

  • 65 per cent of the public thought ‘who you know’ matters more than ‘what you know’;
  • Three in four people said family background has significant influence on life chances in Britain today. When asked about the extent to which their own parents’ income or level of education had influenced where they had got to in life, people were less clear. Four in 10 thought that their parents’ income and education had influenced them and four in 10 thought it had not;
  • Seven in 10 people thought a good education was the key to getting a good job but fewer people in Scotland (63 per cent) and Wales (59 per cent) believe that than in England (72 per cent). Across the UK nearly half of respondents think a good education remains out of the reach for most children from lower income families;
  • When asked where government should be focusing its efforts to improve social mobility, the most commonly selected policies related to employment especially creating jobs and apprenticeships or helping unemployed young people to find work;
  • Three in four thought that government should top up the incomes of the working poor while more than four in five (84 per cent) said that employers should be paying wages that better reflect the cost of living.

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