Call to action for Government over social mobility as just half of people in Yorkshire think their opportunities are good

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Three quarters of people in Yorkshire think there are massive differences in the opportunities on offer for people depending on where they live in the country, according to a new report which paints a stark picture of social mobility across the UK.

A study by the Social Mobility Commission found that 81 per cent of people living in Yorkshire and Humber thought there was a large gap between the social classes.

Dame Martina Milburn, chairwoman of the advisory commission. Photo: Matt Grayson

Dame Martina Milburn, chairwoman of the advisory commission. Photo: Matt Grayson

And less than half of people (49 per cent) said the opportunities in Yorkshire were good.

It contrasts dramatically with the South East, where 74 per cent of people felt there were good avenues to success in their location.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's resounding general election win, following a campaign in which he wooed northern voters, not only with his pledge of getting Brexit done, but also his promise to "level up" the UK's regions through better infrastructure and faster broadband.

Constituencies in Yorkshire, such as Rother Valley, elected a Conservative MP for the first time in their history as a result.

Tory MP for Morley and Outwood Andrea Jenkyns said she had “already organised periodical meetings with West Yorkshire Conservative MPs and we want to keep the pressure up for the Government to deliver” on social mobility.

She said: “Social mobility is a big passion of mine, having started working at a Greggs bakery at 16.

“It is a moment of big changes for our country, and we have the opportunity to level up the differences with the South.

“Investments in infrastructure and education will increase opportunities for the people of Yorkshire and will stop the haemorrhage of talent leaving to work in London.”

Alexander Stafford, Conservative MP for Rother Valley, said the PM was committed to levelling up across the whole of the UK.

But Alex Sobel, Labour MP for Leeds North West, said: “There are real barriers for working class people and those out of work to be able to access the opportunities they want for themselves and their children.

“Although insufficient, providing universal free school meals, a much better childcare offer, free university tuition and a free basic internet offer would start to bridge the gap.”

Hull West and Hessle Labour MP Emma Hardy added: “What is clear is that this Government is not doing enough to support the least well off in our region and in Hull in particular.”

Leeds North East Labour MP Fabian Hamilton said: “The Government cannot continue to ignore the collective voice of so many people who – as this research clearly shows – feel they are not being given the opportunities they need to have a better life.”

Dame Martina Milburn, Chairwoman of the Advisory Commission, said ministers must invest in the country's regions to ensure young people did not have to "move out to move up".

The commission's Social Mobility Barometer report, which saw YouGov survey almost 5,000 people, found that 52 per cent of those interviewed felt the Government was not doing enough to help the least well-off.

Dame Martina, a former BBC Children In Need boss, said: "This poll is a call to action for this Government to do more to help social mobility.

"Politicians at national and local level must listen to it.

"Regions which have been marginalised for decades should get the investment they need to provide opportunities for young people, so they don't have to move out to move up."

Nationally, almost twice as many people felt it was becoming harder to move up society's prosperity ladder.

Pollsters found young people to have a particularly pessimistic outlook, with only a third of 18 to 24- year-olds saying they thought everyone in Britain today had a fair chance, compared with almost half of those 65 and over.

Overall, 63 per cent of people felt they were better off than their parents in terms of the education they received, but only one in three said they had better job security. Fewer than half felt they had a better standard of living.

In contrast to the North-South divide in perceived regional disparity in terms of opportunities, it was Londoners who were more likely to feel they were worse off than their parents when compared with their northern counterparts.

More than a third of those interviewed in the capital thought their financial situation was worse, and 43 per cent said the same in terms of available housing opportunities.