Social mobility is a much bigger issue than just housing, but housing plays an important part in both enabling and preventing disadvantaged people from making social progress.
The barriers to social mobility can take many forms. The Social Mobility Commission published their fifth ‘State of the Nation’ report in 2017. It noted that: “The divide is not just an economic or social one. It takes the form of a widening geographical divide”. As part of that report they published a Social Mobility Index. The map opposite shows the overall score across all local authorities with blue representing areas of high social mobility and red representing areas of low social mobility. The report highlighted that: “There is no simple north/south divide. Instead, a divide exists between London (and its affluent commuter belt) and the rest of the country – London accounts for nearly two-thirds of all social mobility hotspots.”
London and its affluent suburbs may rank most highly overall for social mobility, but the underlying unaffordability of its housing markets are a big problem as pointed out by recent LSE research. Young peoples’ ability to access home-ownership is increasingly determined by whether their parents are home-owners or not. As shown elsewhere, managing to raise a deposit is a big barrier for many prospective first-time buyers. This has meant that increasing numbers are now reliant on the ‘bank of mum and dad’ as shown by the chart below. This is an even bigger issue for the most expensive markets like London where the required deposit is so large that there’s little hope of saving up and it requires borrowing from a very wealthy ‘bank of mum and dad’, one probably already based in London.