LETTER: Appalling social mobility record

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Your recent report on The Social Mobility Commission’s analysis of how we as a nation are dealing with the problem of social and economic disadvantage highlights Chichester’s appalling record on social mobility.

This detailed and authoritative analysis revealing years of failure by our elected representatives to address a vital aspect of regional politics seems, however, to have been met with quite extraordinary equanimity by both West Sussex County and Chichester District Councils.

The report is a damning indictment of many years of utter complacency on the part of the county and district authorities in dealing with the difficulties faced by the least economically advantaged members of our community.

Chichester District Council displays shocking indifference to the greatly reduced life-chances of those who are struggling to make ends meet (287th out of 324 local authorities on social mobility measures).

In addition, West Sussex falls into the ten to 20 per cent category (that is – failing miserably) in early years, school years and overall social mobility indicators.

Chichester, a city of great affluence, ranks a long way below Portsmouth, Havant and Gosport – areas with much higher numbers of the economically disadvantaged – on these same measures.

It can be no coincidence that these negative outcomes coincide with years of underfunding of West Sussex schools, the running down of educational support services and the absence of any coherent strategy to address the issues around social disadvantage.

The members of the Social Mobility Commission resigned en masse after the report was published in protest at this Conservative government’s complete indifference to the increasing inequalities that are corrupting the public and social life of our nation.

This strategy is not, of course, available to the economically disadvantaged themselves, who have no choice but to struggle on against enormous odds until the only change that might positively affect their lives occurs – the election of a Labour local authority and a Labour government. Local authority elections occur next year.