The Social Mobility Barometer unveils public attitudes to social mobility in 2021.


Social Mobility Barometer 2021

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The Social Mobility Barometer 2021 gives a timely snapshot of perceptions of where the coronavirus pandemic has impacted most, who has suffered and what needs to be done by government and others.

Some key findings from the poll on how the public thinks the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted social mobility include:

  • Over half the public (56%) think the pandemic has increased social inequality.
  • 55% of UK adults think the pandemic has had the most impact on mental health.
  • When asked what the government’s key priorities should be in any pandemic recovery plan, the largest number of respondents said employment opportunities (47%) followed by addressing mental health issues (46%) and improving access to education (33%).

More generally, the poll exposed that:

  • Four in five adults (79%) now believe there is a large gap between different social classes.
  • Three-quarters (74%) of people think there are large differences in opportunities across Britain.
  • Only 31% of people in the north-east believe opportunities to progress in their area are ‘good’, compared to 74% in London.
  • A third (35%) of adults across the UK believe everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their hard work will take them. Only one in four (25%) people from black and ethnic minority groups believe we live in a fair society.
  • On average 39% of the public think it is getting harder for people from less advantaged families to move up in British society. 42% of those aged 25 to 49 think it is getting harder.
  • People say that central (53%) and local (42%) government should be doing more to improve social mobility and provide opportunities for everyone.
  • An increasing number of people think that employers should have to take action to improve social mobility – 42% in 2021 compared with 31% in 2019. Ethnic minorities are more likely than average to say that employers should act (58%).

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4,693 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 27 January – 1 February 2021. The survey was carried out online.

Published 11 March 2021