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Commission's unique data platform to address regional inequality

A portion of a UK map with a pin near Colchester

The new Data Explorer breaks down social mobility measures across the UK by geography, gender, ethnicity and disability for the first time.

An exciting innovation which provides a detailed analysis of regional social mobility was unveiled in Manchester by Alun Francis, interim chair of the Social Mobility Commission.

The Data Explorer is a unique interactive visualisation tool, developed by the SMC, which breaks down social mobility measures across the UK by geography, gender, ethnicity and disability for the first time.

It could revolutionise policy making by helping education, business and local government leaders to provide coordinated help for disadvantaged families in their region. But it can also be used by the public to better understand the area they live in.

At present there is not enough data to show how education and employment outcomes interact with socio-economic data on a geographical basis. This means that too often national policy on social mobility fails to take account of regional differences which can limit opportunities.

The new tool, which becomes publicly available in September, will be published alongside the SMC’s latest State of the Nation report and bring its findings to life in an interactive way. The report will include a detailed update on social mobility outcomes across more than 40 regions. Early data for the report confirms that there is a large variation across a range of social mobility metrics in the UK. This includes educational attainment and occupational mobility.

Alun Francis, also principal of Oldham College, wants to encourage regional partnerships to draw up policies to boost social mobility. “The Data Explorer tool should be a game-changer in policy making,” Mr Francis said at Greater Manchester Chambers of Commerce. “School, university and business leaders should now work with local government to address regional inequalities more effectively. There are big challenges to face in the levelling up agenda but there can be no one-size-fits-all approach.”

Mr Francis hosted a panel of experts in Manchester to discuss how to tackle geographical inequality by working with local partners. Sir Michael Barber, Chancellor of Exeter University and Lee Elliot Major, Professor of Social Mobility at Exeter University, who both spoke, have recently set up the South West Social Mobility Commission. They presented their model at the event to show where regional partnerships can be effective and discussed whether this could be mirrored across the country.

Notes to Editors

The Social Mobility Commission is an advisory, non-departmental public body established under the Life Chances Act 2010 as modified by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016. It has a duty to assess progress in improving social mobility in the United Kingdom and to promote social mobility in England.

It comprises:

Interim Chair:

Alun Francis, Principal and CEO of Oldham College


Dr Raghib Ali, Senior Clinical Research Associate at the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge.

Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Political Science at the University of Kent.

Ryan Henson, Chief Executive Officer at the Coalition for Global Prosperity.

Parminder Kohli, Senior Vice President EMEA at Shell Lubricants.

Resham Kotecha, Head of Policy at the Open Data Institute

Rob Wilson, Chairman at WheelPower – British Wheelchair Sport.