CEO of the Social Mobility Foundation and Department for Opportunities responds to the levelling-up white paper announcement.

Certain areas of the country have been starved of opportunity for far too long. We see that firsthand through our work. So while levelling-up as a focus is entirely right, we believe today’s announcements fall short of the mark.

This is especially true of the focus on ‘cold spots’. We have been consistent that there can be no levelling-up while social mobility cold spots endure, but recycled announcements and funding will not be enough for young people in these areas. One only has to compare real-terms school funding in deprived areas today to 2009 to understand the challenges facing the agenda and social mobility more broadly.

These structural problems existed before the pandemic. Covid has added fuel to the fire: increasing the attainment gap and robbing young people of untold educational and workplace opportunities. Medium-term targets are important but new funding and urgent action is needed now.

We have consulted extensively with young people in these areas and have a series of recommendations that government can act on quickly to create the foundations for a more equal country.

Sarah Atkinson