The pandemic has significantly increased the “gulf” between social classes and is detrimentally affecting children in care, a major poll has revealed.
The findings form part of the Social Mobility Barometer – an annual survey carried out by the Social Mobility Commission.
According to the research, over half (56 per cent) of Brits believe that the coronavirus pandemic has increased social inequality, while a similar proportion (55 per cent) think the pandemic has had the most impact on mental health.
In addition, four in five adults (79 per cent) now believe that there is a large gap between different social classes, while three in four (74 per cent) think there are large differences in opportunities across Britain.
Worryingly, over a third (39 per cent) of the public think it is “getting harder” for people from less advantaged families to move up in British society.
The survey reflects what caregivers have witnessed all year – a growing gulf between disadvantaged young people and those from stable homes.
For example, children from poor backgrounds and without access to digital equipment, such as computers and smart devices, are falling behind at school compared to peers.
In the same respect, young people with cramped or unsuitable homes may be unable to work from home, meaning those from the poorest backgrounds are at an increased risk of losing their jobs.
Commenting on the findings, the researchers called on the Government to do more to help the young people most affected by the pandemic, for example, by increasing teaching hours to allow them to catch up with the school curriculum.
“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on jobs, training and mental health, particularly among the most disadvantaged groups. This poll dramatically underlines public concern about growing social inequality,” said Steven Cooper, interim Co-Chair of the Social Mobility Commission.
“Government, employers and educators should listen and act. The most disadvantaged – at home, school or work – should now be put centre stage in any recovery plan.”