Theresa May’s social mobility board quits over lack of progress

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Theresa May

The authors of a major report laying bare the “burning injustices” in Dundee have resigned from their government posts.

The departing members of the Social Mobility Commission blamed Brexit as they criticised the lack of progress towards a “fairer Britain”.

It comes as a blow for Theresa May, who used her maiden speech as Prime Minister to pledge a more equal society.

The commission, which oversees the UK Government’s performance on social mobility, published a report last week, which showed that Dundee is lagging well behind most of Scotland for the employment and education prospects of its residents.

Michael Marra, a Labour councillor on Dundee City Council, said: “It is no surprise that the Social Mobility Commission has resigned in frustration with this callous Tory government.

“Their report published last week should have been a wake-up call for Theresa May and her ministers – but it has been delivered to a government that prioritises the rich over the rest.

“Dundee is suffering daily from attacks by both the SNP in Edinburgh and the Tories in Westminster.

“The Scottish budget is now vital. Our services must be protected. “

Alan Milburn, the board’s chairman and a former Labour minister, was joined in the walk-out by his three fellow commissioners, who include the former Conservative cabinet member Baroness Shephard.

In his resignation letter, Mr Milburn said the preoccupation with Brexit meant the Government “does not have the necessary bandwidth to ensure the rhetoric of healing social division is matched with the reality”.

He added: “I have little hope of the current Government making the progress I believe is necessary to bring about a fairer Britain.”

Mrs May entered Downing Street in the summer promising to end the “burning injustices” in society.

The SMC report put Dundee fourth bottom of Scotland’s 32 council areas for securing good employment and education for its young people.

The city stood way behind the neighbouring council areas of Angus, Fife and Perth & Kinross, which came in the top 10 and ranked better in almost all other measures.

Dundee City Council said it recognises there are social problems in the city, but added there is a lot of work being done to address those, including investing in equipping its residents with more skills.

Clare Adamson, the SNP MSP said, the resignation is “deeply humiliating” for the Prime Minister.

Defending the Scottish Government’s record, she said: “We’ve done everything we can to mitigate the worst of Tory welfare cuts, we’re supporting young families and doubling childcare, we’ve committed £750 million to raising attainment in schools and promoting the Living Wage across the public sector.”

A UK Government spokesman said it is “committed to fighting injustice and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to go as far as their talents will take them”.

“We are making good progress with social mobility – we have increased the national living wage, cut income tax for the lowest paid and doubled free childcare,” the spokesman said.

“We accept there is more to do and that is why we are focusing our efforts in disadvantaged areas where we can make the biggest difference.”

 

 

 

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