OPPORTUNITIES for children from low-income families in Worcester are among the lowest in the country, with the city being dubbed a ‘coldspot’ for social mobility, a damning report has revealed.
The findings, published in the Social Mobility Commission’s State of the Nation report last Tuesday saw the city within the bottom 20 per cent of local authorities in the UK.
Worcester is at the heart of a Midlands region which is the worst region in the country for social mobility with only Wychavon faring worse in Worcestershire.
The Faithful City is the fifth worst area in the West Midlands for social mobility according to the report. According to the figures, Worcester ranks below Redditch and Malvern Hills while Bromsgrove is near the top of the charts.
A series of rankings from early years education provision through to average wages earned in working life were used to determine the figures and reveal areas for improvement for areas such as Worcester.
In their report, the commission said: “On the whole, the urban areas surrounding Birmingham rank in the top third of the country, due to very strong education outcomes, while sparsely populated areas, such as Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, fall in the bottom third.”
Despite the low ranking for education and early years, it appears Worcester does close the gap when young people reach employment with figures for adulthood rated much better than other areas.
Responding to the report, Coun Adrian Gregson told the Observer findings didn’t surprise him and called for action to be taken.
“As a ward councillor for Rainbow Hill, one of the areas traditionally described as more deprived than others in the city and county, it strikes me this is not a surprise.
“Areas like Rainbow Hill, Gorse Hill, Warndon and Dines Green are known to have deprivation – and there are other spots too in the city – but what is actually done about it?
“National government has pursued a programme of austerity for years, cut back on benefits and assistance.
“Public transport is inadequate which makes it harder for people to get about and access skills centres and work opportunities.
“Youth provision has been slashed and also the supporting people budget. Charities and voluntary sector bodies are seeing their funding cut.
“So in terms of what can be done to improve the situation? Lift austerity measures, work with partners to get adequate transport and skills opportunities, make real step changes in health and education provision.
“I’d like to see put funding back into services which support and drive people’s access to the opportunities which they may have ambitions for but cannot reach, for a variety of reasons.”
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So how does Worcester rate in the areas examined in the report which ranked all 324 local authorities:
Early Years – 241st
School Age – 239th
Youth – 310th
Adulthood – 129th
Overall social mobilty rank – 277th