Disadvantaged Young People Losing out in Social Mobility

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), November 29, 2017 | Go to article overview

Disadvantaged Young People Losing out in Social Mobility


Byline: David Williamson Political editor david.williamson@walesonline.co.uk

THE best and the worst places to grow up poor in Wales are revealed in a major new analysis of social mobility.

The study looked at the factors which can help people move up the social ladder at different stages of life and the Vale of Glamorgan topped the rankings of Wales' 22 local authority areas.

It was followed by Ceredigion, Monmouthshire, Merthyr Tydfil and Bridgend.

The research by the Social Mobility Commission found the worst performing area in Wales was Neath Port Talbot, followed by Conwy, Blaenau Gwent, Wrexham and Pembrokeshire The researchers report that Cardiff is not the best place to live in Wales for getting on in life, ranked 13th, just behind Anglesey and ahead of Swansea.

And the authors highlight Wales' enduring problem with poverty, stating: "[High] levels of poverty in Wales have an impact on every life stage. Currently, nearly a quarter (23%) of all individuals in Wales live in poverty - higher than in all regions in England and Great Britain, except London and the West Midlands."

When the researchers looked specifically at early years mobility they found Monmouthshire scored best and Conwy did worst.

Their report states: "In the early years, Monmouthshire delivers the best outcomes for young disadvantaged children. All of the non-maintained nursery providers were rated 'excellent' or 'good' and nearly 83% of children eligible for free school meals achieved outcome five or above in the Foundation Phase Indicator.

"In comparison, in Conwy (the lowest-performing area in this life stage), only 80% of nurseries achieved 'excellent' or 'good' and just under 69% of children achieved outcome five or above in the Foundation Phase Indicator."

They then looked at how children who qualified for free school meals in key stages two and three, the seven to 14 age group, fared in Wales.

This time, Ceredigion topped the rankings while Rhondda Cynon Taf came bottom.

The study notes: "At key stage 2, pupils not eligible for free school meals are outperforming their peers on free school meals by 15 percentage points overall. This gap is lowest in south east Wales, with the exception of Caerphilly, and it is highest in central south Wales, where Rhondda Cynon Taf has the largest attainment gap of nearly 21 percentage points."

Ceredigion also had the lowest level of school leavers not entering education, employment or training (Neet) while Neath Port Talbot had the highest.

The authors write: "It does therefore not appear to be the case that living in an urban area in Wales means better outcomes for young disadvantaged people. In particular, living in an urban area does not increase the likelihood of young people being in education, employment or training after Year 11...

"Neath Port Talbot has the highest proportion of young people who are Neet, with rates more than three and a half times those of other parts of Wales."

Researchers then looked at the factors which influence social mobility in people's working lives, taking into account factors including wages, house price ratios and the share of the population in professional jobs.

Cardiff topped the rankings in this category, ahead of Monmouthshire and the Vale of Glamorgan. Pembrokeshire had the worst score, followed by Gwynedd and Ceredigion.

They authors write: "A total of 26% of people earn below the voluntary living wage, which is five percentage points higher than in Scotland, but lower than in many English regions."

When both full and part-time earnings are taken into account, median weekly salaries in Wales worked out at just PS393, compared with PS434 in England.

The report states: "Apart from Cardiff, the major cities in Wales do not provide the best outcomes for their residents in their working lives. …

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