Jon Trickett MP writes: The chances of moving down the class structure are now greater than the chances of moving up. Your life chances are largely determined by where you are born and who your parents are.
The Social Mobility Commission has found that even when those from working class backgrounds are successful in entering professional occupations, they earn 17 per cent less than their more privileged colleagues.
Now the government’s new social mobility tsar has said that working class kids should stop fixating on getting to university and celebrate “small steps up the ladder”.
In Hemsworth, the Conservative government has kicked the whole ladder away, so people cannot even take “small steps”.
Hemsworth is placed 529th out of 533 seats for social mobility. This means a child born in poverty will almost certainly die in poverty. Not through any fault of their own, they are actively held back by entrenched inequality which has hit deindustrial areas like mine the hardest.
So what has caused this to happen?
First, cuts to public services have had a deep impact. The Conservative government cut Wakefield Council’s budget by 40.3 per cent since 2015, which is £56.8 million in real terms. Even with the £20 million levelling up money across the district, we will still have received a net cut of £36.8 million.
Second, the geographic asymmetry of economic opportunity. Yorkshire has received less investment than London.
For example, transport spending is £906 per head in London compared to £321 per head in Yorkshire.
If you do not have access to transport – a quarter of my constituents do not own a car - then how are you meant to access jobs in nearby towns and cities?
This has meant the class structure has become ossified. If you compare Hemsworth with Boris Johnson’s constituency of Uxbridge you see there are 21 per cent fewer ‘top jobs’.
Since 2010, average weekly earnings in Hemsworth have increased by 6.5 per cent, compared to 18 per cent in Uxbridge and we have 30 per cent fewer people with NVQ4+ qualifications than they do.
These problems stem from the neoliberal way our economy is structured.
Areas like Hemsworth have been actively held back by a political project that deindustrialied the UK, so we no longer manufacture goods, and refocused its energy on unleashing global markets.
The City of London became the global financial centre for the free movement of capital, which has allowed banks to escape scrutiny, accountability and regulation.
It has allowed the richest people in society to increase their wealth by over £700 billion since the crash, including £106 billion during the Covid pandemic.But it doesn’t have to be like this. Hemsworth constituency is full of talent, hard work and innovation. We should be rewarded properly.
If the government really wants to level up, they must do more than make us compete with other equally held back areas for some scraps of money after years and years of cuts. Only a radical break with our current economic model will do.