The next Labour government will launch a Social Justice Commission and focus on social justice rather than social mobility, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner have announced today.
Declaring social mobility a failure, Labour is promising a new approach that will focus on giving every child the chance to flourish, not just a “lucky few”.
Labour argues that the concept of social mobility has given credibility to the idea that “only a few talented or lucky people deserve to escape the disadvantage they were born into”.
Announcing the change in direction the next Labour government will introduce, the Labour Leader and Shadow Education Secretary said that a focus on social mobility without addressing social inequality has meant that the “privileged remain privileged, while people from working-class backgrounds are denied opportunities.”
Outlining plans to create a new Social Justice Commission to replace the Social Mobility Commission at a Labour Party education policy event in Birmingham, Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Rayner said Labour’s commitment to building a country in which there are opportunities for everyone to develop their talents and progress, not just a lucky few.
Labour say they will:
- Replace social mobility with social justice as a measure of government policy and a stated aim of government policies;
- Grant the new Social Justice Commission wide-ranging statutory powers and genuine independence to hold the next Labour government – and all future governments – to account for improving social justice;
- Empower the new Social Justice commission to give advice to Ministers on policies that could improve social justice, with such advice to be made public;
- Enable the new Social Justice Commission to carry out social justice impact assessment on government policy (green papers, white papers, legislation) to assess the impact that each aspect of government policy will have on social justice;
- Create a new Minister for Social Justice, working across government departments to drive the social justice agenda across all aspects of Government.
The move represents a major shift from previous governments – both Conservative and Labour.
The next Labour government will focus on social justice rather than social mobility, arguing that social mobility helps just a lucky few to move up the social hierarchy, whilst leaving the hierarchy of entrenched inequality and disadvantage firmly still in place.
Labour says it is committing itself to a radical transformation of society so that every child has the chance to flourish, not just a lucky few.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “For decades we’ve been told that inequality doesn’t matter because the education system will allow talented and hard-working people succeed whatever their background. But the greater inequality has become, the more entrenched it has become.
“Social mobility has failed, even on its own terms. The idea that only a few talented or lucky people deserve to escape the disadvantage they were born in to, leaving in place a social hierarchy in which millions are consigned to the scrap heap, results in the talents of millions of children being squandered.
“Education is one of the most powerful means we have to overcome disadvantage. But our current system is mirroring and reinforcing the inequality in our society. The privileged remain privileged while people from working-class backgrounds are denied opportunities.
“We need a new approach – an education system that will unlock the potential of every child, not just a lucky few. We need to give everybody the chance to flourish.”
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education Angela Rayner said: “Focusing only on a lucky few leaves inequality entrenched and those from disadvantaged backgrounds with few opportunities to get on. That was the damning verdict of the government’s own Social Mobility Commission, which Tory Ministers have shamefully ignored.
“The Tories like to talk about people like me who had a difficult start but got on in life as evidence that anyone can succeed on their own. But actually my life shows the exact opposite.
“Any success I have had is thanks to Labour governments that provided the council house, minimum wage, tax credits and Sure Start children’s centre that enabled me to achieve it.
“That is social justice. Not one person doing better than the people they grew up with but all of us working together to give everyone the chance to reach their full potential. The very opposite of what the Tories believe or do.
“The next Labour government will be different. We won’t stand for a society in which only a lucky few succeed while inequality and poverty hold back millions.
“We will focus on social justice, not just social mobility, to build a society in which everyone can develop their talents and succeed regardless of their background. That is the radical transformation of society only Labour will deliver.
“And unlike the Tories, we are prepared to be held to account on our promises.
“So we will turn the Social Mobility Commission in to the Social Justice Commission, and give it genuine independence and power to guarantee that social justice is what the next Labour government delivers.”
Disclaimer: This is an edited version of an official press release from the Labour Party.