Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Former Health Secretary Resigns from Commission

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Former Health Secretary Resigns from Commission

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Meechan Reporter simon.meechan@trinitymirror.com @SimonMeechan_90

FORMER Labour minister and North East MP Alan Milburn has quit his role as chair of the Social Mobility Commission as he says the Government is unable to bring greater equality to Britain's poorest regions.

Mr Milburn, a former health secretary and Darlington MP, resigned alongside the commission's board as there is "little hope" of the Government bringing in changes to create a "fairer Britain".

Last week, the same commission published a report saying people born poor in the North East are among the most likely to die poor in Britain. The damning report ranked the North East as the second worst area in England for chances of social progression from education to finding work.

Mr Milburn and his three fellow commissioners have walked out on the commission, which is tasked with monitoring the Government's progress in delivering social mobility.

In his resignation letter, Mr Milburn, who grew up in Tow Law, County Durham, said the Government is too busy dealing with Brexit to "have the necessary bandwidth to ensure the rhetoric of healing social division is matched with the reality".

Mr Milburn, 59, added: "I have little hope of the current Government making the progress I believe is necessary to bring about a fairer Britain. "It seems unable to commit to the future of the commission as an independent body or to give due priority to the social mobility challenge facing our nation."

The commission's report published three days ago warns that far right and hard left politics could rise unless economic, social and geographical divisions are addressed. It says London and its commuter belt resemble a "different country" to coastal, rural and former industrial areas, where young people have little chance of finding better paid jobs, and can not afford to travel further to look for better work.

Mr Milburn told The Observer: "The worst position in politics is to set out a proposition that you're going to heal social divisions and then do nothing about it. …

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