Commission wants better deal for low-paid workers

Further government action on low pay is needed to help tackle the problem of in-work poverty, according to a report from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.

The Commission – an official advisory body chaired by former Labour minister Alan Milburn – was asked by the coalition government to give its view on what further steps could reasonably be taken to improve social mobility.

Key recommendations

  • The government should tackle the prevalence of low pay by changing the law to require listed firms and public sector employers to publish the number of staff earning low pay, and get the Low Pay Commission to set voluntary benchmarks for different sectors. The Commission believes this will help address the current situation where over half of working-age adults in poverty – and two-thirds of children in poverty – live in households where at least one adult works.
  • The government should consider ways to address the income gradient in children's outcomes – such as extending the 'pupil premium' into nurseries, and targeted ante-natal classes that focus on how to help all parents know the basics of child development. The Commission believes that simple messages about the importance of parenting could start to narrow the stark gap in outcomes: for example, just 4 in 10 of the poorest children are read to every day, compared with almost 8 in ten (79 per cent) of children from the richest families.
  • The government should assess what is happening to careers advice in schools and be prepared to strengthen obligations, given widespread concerns that there is a problem. Only one in 20 businesses (5 per cent) across the United Kingdom feel careers advice is good enough, and nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) think it needs to improve.

SourceSocial Mobility: The Next Steps, Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission
LinksReport | Summary | EIF press release | Guardian report | Nursery World report

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Publication date: 
Sep 10 2013