Where a child grows up on the Fylde could have a huge impact on their opportunities to get ahead in life, a report has found.
The Government study has revealed the worst places in England to grow up poor with Lancashire home to some of the best and worst areas.
The State of the Nation report from the Social Mobility Commission ranks all 324 local authorities in England according to the life chances available to someone born into a disadvantaged background.
Blackpool is named the seventh worst place in the whole country, while Fylde and Wyre both rank highly for the opportunities disadvantaged youngsters get.
Only Chorley in Lancashire scores higher than Fylde, which is ranked 54th best in England.
The authors of the report argue that Britain’s deep social mobility problem is getting worse and the chances of someone from a disadvantaged background getting on in life is closely linked to where they grow up.
“The country seems to be in the grip of a self-reinforcing spiral of ever-growing division,” said the Rt Hon Alan Milburn, chairman of the Social Mobility Commission. “That takes a spatial form, not just a social one. There is a stark social mobility lottery in Britain today.
“London and its hinterland are increasingly looking like a different country from the rest of Britain.
“It is moving ahead as are many of our country’s great cities. But too many rural and coastal areas and the towns of Britain’s old industrial heartlands are being left behind economically and hollowed out socially.
“Tinkering around the edges will not do the trick. The analysis in this report substantiates the sense of political alienation and social resentment that so many parts of Britain feel.
“A new level of effort is needed to tackle the phenomenon of left behind Britain. Overcoming the divisions that exist in Britain requires far more ambition and far bigger scale. A less divided Britain will require a more redistributive approach to spreading education, employment and housing prospects across our country.”
Using 16 indicators, the Social Mobility Index assesses the education, employability and housing prospects of people living in each of England’s 324 local authority areas. The index highlights where people from disadvantaged backgrounds are most and least likely to make social progress.
According to the report, Blackpool’s ‘highly transient’ population is part of the reason why it is the seventh most deprived local authority district in England.
It has struggled to tackle deprivation and regenerate following its ‘glory days as a seaside town in the 1960s’, the report says.
It adds: “One in five disadvantaged young people is not in education, employment or training, among the highest in England.”
However Coun Graham Cain, Blackpool Council’s cabinet secretary for resilient communities said work was underway to drive social mobility in the resort.
“Although we have a lot of social challenges, we are working hard to tackle these issues at a number of levels,” he said.
“Only two months ago plans were unveiled by the education secretary, Justine Greening, to drive social mobility in the town. Blackpool is now one of 12 opportunity areas that are developing initiatives to improve opportunities for youngsters.”
However, the report found some of the nation’s more deprived areas are in fact hotspots for social mobility, while some more affluent areas struggled to provide good education and employment opportunities for their poorest residents.
The Social Mobility Commission has warned there is a fracture line running through England’s labour and housing markets as well as the education system.
It states: “All too often the debate about social mobility becomes polarised between those who succumb to a weary sense of inevitability about our powerlessness to challenge the global forces that are reshaping the social landscape and those who subscribe to the theory that change can only happen if the whole global economic system is turned upside down. Both positions we believe to be counsels of despair.
“There is enough evidence from around the world, in our country’s own history and, contemporaneously, in local areas to know that, with the right approach, the transmission of disadvantage from one generation to the next can be broken.”
How does your post code compare?
How Lancashire boroughs fare in their social mobility ranking according to the Government’s Social Mobility Commission out of 324 local authorities:
South Ribble 70
Ribble Valley 90
West Lancashire 125
What is Blackpool doing about it?
Coun Graham Cain, Blackpool Council’s cabinet secretary for resilient communities, said a plan for the resort had already set out ‘ambitious targets’ to drive up standards.
“A great deal of progress has already been made in Blackpool, through the work of the Blackpool School Improvement Board,” he added.
“However, now every school will get additional support to improve teaching in subjects such as maths.
“We will also be supporting vulnerable families to reduce absence and exclusion in order to reduce these rates below the national average by 2020.
“Working with enterprise advisers and other partners in each school and college in Blackpool, more high quality encounters will be made between young people aged 11-18 and local employers.
“The proportion of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) will significantly reduce in the next three years.
“Blackpool will also benefit from up to £1m through a new Essential Life Skills programme, to help disadvantaged young people develop life skills such as resilience, leadership, emotional wellbeing and employability through activities such as sports.”
And he said the work being down was not limited to helping younger residents
Coun Cain added: “We are also proud of new facilities such as HealthWorks which brings together a range of employment, health and lifestyle advice for local residents to help them gain and sustain jobs, as well as improve their overall health and wellbeing.
“Another area of focus is housing. Blackpool Council urgently needs control of the local housing benefit budget, which is currently costing the UK taxpayer £85m in Blackpool alone.
“If we could vary housing benefit rates, we could force bad landlords out of town and reduce the huge oversupply of poor quality accommodation, which is what is driving these indices and statistics downwards. The leader of the council is shortly to submit a proposal to the Government, who are interested in understanding how this might work.
“However, if you look around Blackpool today the bigger picture is that the landscape of the town is changing. Despite huge cuts to the council’s budget over the last few years we are committed to moving forward with a dynamic vision for the future of our town.
“Numerous publicly and privately funded construction projects are underway that are giving people work, creating new jobs for locals, helping revitalise areas of the town and driving forward our economy.
“We are committed to making Blackpool better and better.”