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Britain’s social mobility board quits citing lack of progress
The Social Mobility Commission’s chair, Alan Milburn, published his resignation letter to British Prime Minister Theresa May in The Guardian saying he didn’t doubt her “personal belief” in social justice but saw “little evidence of that being translated into meaningful action.”
“For almost a decade, I have been proud to serve under Labour, coalition and Conservative governments in various social mobility roles. I remain deeply committed to the issue, but I have little hope of the current government making the progress I believe is necessary to bring about a fairer Britain,” Milburn wrote. “It seems unable to commit to the future of the commission as an independent body or to give due priority to the social mobility challenge facing our nation.”
The commission’s other three members vice-chair Gillian Shephard and commissioners Paul Gregg and David Johnston also resigned.
The Commission for Social Mobility and Child Poverty was established in 2011 and is tasked with “freeing children from poverty and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”
Last week the commission published a report warning Britain could face a rise of far right or hard left political extremism if the country fails address the economic, social and local divisions laid bare by the Brexit vote.
“The need for political leadership in this area has never been more pressing,” Miburn wrote in his resignation letter. “Social mobility is one of the biggest challenges facing our country today. It is not just the poorest in society who are losing out. Whole communities and parts of Britain are being left behind economically and hollowed out socially.”
Milburn noted while individual ministers such as the secretary of state for education showed “deep commitment” to social mobility the government as a whole remained “understandably focused” on Brexit.
He also promised to start his own social mobility institute independent of government or political parties to “take forward the practical work that is needed to make a reality of my belief in a fairer, more open, more mobile society in Britain.”