Harman Tells All Public Bodies to Tackle Class Divide

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL WAUGH

EQUALITIES minister Harriet Harman declared war on Britain's "class divide" today by unveiling a new law requiring all public bodies to narrow the gap between rich and poor.

Every public authority, from Whitehall departments to local councils, will be subject to an over-arching legal duty requiring it to take class background into account in its decisions.

The new duty, which is to be tacked onto the Equalities Bill, has been described by one Cabinet minister as "socialism in one clause".

In a speech this weekend, Ms Harman will trumpet the radical move as a step towards "a new social order". "We want to do more than just provide escape routes out of poverty for a talented few. We want to tackle the class divide," she will say.

Poorer children may have much more spent on them per head and councils could be forced to consider local lotteries of school places.

The measure is a centrepiece of the Government's efforts to increase social mobility, unveiled in a white paper by the Cabinet Office today.

Former Cabinet minister Alan Milburn was confirmed as the head of a commission into the problems faced by working class pupils in breaking into the top professions of law, the Army, medicine, politics and media. …