William Eichler 04 November 2019

Whitehall announces £18m for a dozen ‘left behind' areas

Whitehall announces £18m for a dozen ‘left behind areas image

The education secretary Gavin Williamson has today announced that the Opportunity Area programme will receive more funding to help improve educational outcomes and careers advice.

The Opportunity Area programme, launched in October 2016, aims to improve social mobility in 12 areas that face social, economic and cultural challenges.

To date, the Department for Education has invested £72m into the selected areas, which include Blackpool, Derby, Norwich, Oldham, North Yorkshire Coast, West Somerset, Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent.

Today’s £18m of funding extends the programme into a fourth year, which will run until August 2021.

‘Ability is evenly spread across the country, but opportunity isn’t,’ said Mr Williamson.

‘We’re determined to put right the wrongs of places left behind and see the Opportunity Area programme grow – helping local leaders and schools to tackle some of the greatest challenges young people face.

‘It’s not just about what happens now in these 12 areas but the impact these projects will have on future generations and paving the way for them to overcome obstacles to success.’

A report published in April by the Social Mobility Commission warned that inequality is ‘now entrenched in Britain from birth to work’.

After 10 years of austerity, the commission found that the better off are nearly 80% more likely to end up in professional jobs than those from a working-class background.

It also learnt that even when people from disadvantaged backgrounds get a professional job, they earn 17% less than their privileged colleagues.

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