New social mobility strategy will aim to overturn years of stalled progressed

A new social mobility strategy for Cambridgeshire will seek to replace a system which is said to have failed to make a substantial difference.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 6:06 pm

The county council wants to adopt a new approach after highlighting that previous attempts (including nationally) have failed yield to marked change.

Under plans which are being drawn up, the new strategy will adopt a ‘broader than services’ approach with a focus instead on personalised support.

The idea is part of the Think Communities programme adopted across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to bring services and groups together, rather than organisations operating separately.

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A new social mobility strategy for Cambridgeshire is being drawn up
A new social mobility strategy for Cambridgeshire is being drawn up

Fenland, in particular, is said to suffer from high levels of deprivation, with 14 per cent of the population believed to be ‘income deprived’ - considerably higher than the other districts in the county.

The new Social Mobility Strategy, which is expected to be completed in the near future, will focus on:

. ‘Personalisation at scale’

. Support in navigating ‘the system’

. Making sure individuals who receive support from one service can be re-directed to other available services where appropriate

. Prevention and early intervention

. Targeted activity

. Partnership delivery.

The council wants to offer a “holistic” approach where people can be referred between support services where a multitude of needs are flagged up, rather than just the one they initially access.

It said: “Historically, public services to support those in need were designed around the delivery a range of individual services. More recently, it has been recognised that many of the problems faced by individuals and families are inter-related and that service delivery in silos has severe limitations.

“The complexity of the social mobility system and the repeated and ongoing failure of policy to address the causes and consequences of poor social mobility are important points to recognise but cannot be taken as an argument to do nothing in this space.

“However, neither should they lead to a cycle of action that restates the problems of inequality.”

It added: “To generate a new social mobility strategy and action plan predicated on the previous approach would therefore represent doing the same thing again and hoping for a different result.”

Diverging from previous strategies in order to provide a ‘personalised offer’ will require “significant systems change, partnership work and overall organisational support”.

The council said poor social mobility results from: social, cultural, human, environmental and economic capital inequalities which are often ingrained.

A report to councillors from service director for communities and partnerships Adrian Chapman also praises the impact of the authority’s new cross-party leadership, made up of the Liberal Democrats, Labour and independents.

It states: “Our work to address social immobility has received a significant boost from the new leadership of the council who have made the issue one of the most important aspects of its Joint Administration Agreement.

“In recognition of this, the Communities, Social Mobility and Inclusion Committee has been established to drive forward this work at pace.”