Nick Clegg sets out social mobility plan

Nick Clegg claimed today that "birth has become destiny" for many youngsters as he set out the Government's strategy to improve social mobility.





The Deputy Prime Minister, who admitted he had benefited from a privileged upbringing, insisted it was time to break down barriers preventing poorer children reaching their potential.



"It just is not right that for too many young people, birth has become destiny, that the circumstances of someone's birth should shape, narrow and limit opportunities at school, at college, at university, the labour market - and more than that, on some evidence, limit the length of time you will live," he said.



As part of a social mobility strategy published today, he called on companies to allocate internships through open competition rather than being allocated to the "well-connected".



But he faced accusations of hypocrisy over his own intern experience at a Finnish bank, which was set up through a friend of his financier father.



Labour MP John Mann said: "It is total hypocrisy and really desperate for him to attack internships now.



"His policies are holding down social mobility in this country but he enjoyed all the advantages of family connections himself."



Campaign group Intern Aware also claimed that Mr Clegg's Liberal Democrats were among the "worst offenders" for unpaid internships.



Co-director Ben Lyons said: "It is encouraging that politicians have finally woken up to the scandal of Britain's unpaid intern culture.



"But as part of any solution, Nick Clegg must address the widespread use of unpaid interns in his own party."



Mr Clegg said the Lib Dems would be putting their own internship system "on a much more transparent footing" for youngsters, including making applications "name and school blind".



Civil service internships are also to be advertised on a central website from 2012, ending informal placements within Whitehall.



Mr Clegg called for financial support for interns, covering out-of-pocket expenses or even offering a wage, amid concerns that many youngsters cannot afford to undertake unpaid positions, particularly in London.



"For too long, internships have been the almost exclusive preserve of the sharp-elbowed and the well-connected," Mr Clegg said.



"Unfair, informal internships can rig the market in favour of those who already have opportunities.



"We want a fair job market based on merit, not networks. It should be about what you know, not who you know.



"A country that is socially mobile bases opportunity on your ability and drive, not on who your father's friends are."



Prime Minister David Cameron called on MPs to recruit interns "from backgrounds who wouldn't always get those opportunities".



The Government will be tracking progress against its social mobility goals with the publication of a set of "indicators".



Ministers are also setting up a Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, to be chaired at first by former Labour minister Alan Milburn.



The new commission will be independent and staffed by "a small staff of experts", producing annual progress reports to Parliament.



The social mobility strategy highlights several "critical moments" in terms of people making the best of their lives.



Indicators to be studied and compared across social groups include birth weights, school readiness at age five, educational achievement and entry to the "most selective" third of universities and economic activity between 18 and 24.



They will be incorporated into the business plans of Whitehall departments, forcing them to consider the impact of policies on social mobility.



Mr Clegg said: "A society which does not have social mobility, is a more segregated society, a more divided society, a more frightened society and physically - a more gated society."



Nick Pearce, director of centre-left think-tank the IPPR, said the report card indicators were "mostly a sub-set of those used in the Labour years".



But he backed Mr Clegg's focus on internships, saying: "They are a source of cheap labour for employers, who can rely on better-off families supporting their children to get a vital first step on the jobs ladder.



"Interns should be paid a proper wage and openly recruited on merit."



Kitty Ussher, former Labour minister and director of the Demos think-tank, said the Government was right to highlight early intervention projects but said the strategy failed to address the impact of spending cuts on social mobility.



"If councils cut youth services, as well as non-essential services for children and the elderly, this will reduce the earnings potential of informal carers, many of whom are already finding it hard to juggle work and family commitments," she said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?