County APPG Inquiry on Social Mobility in Shire Counties


The County All Party Parliamentary Group, County Councils Network, and influential think-tank Localis have launched a new joint inquiry on social mobility in county and rural areas.

The Social Mobility Commission’s report late last year highlighted issues of social mobility across the country, raising concerns about attainment, higher and further education attendance, and access to the jobs market in rural and coastal areas. County Councils Network (CCN) analysis shows that 52 out of the 65 social mobility ‘cold spots’, as outlined in the report, were based in counties.

Despite the introduction of an uplift in funding for all schools in the ‘new schools funding formula’  last year,  the gap in funding per pupil between counties and inner London will rise this year to 43.46%; with county schools receiving the lowest funding per-head compared to any other local authority type. At the same time, attainment of children who receive free school meals, or children in care is significantly lower in counties, whilst less go on to further education. These issues have come at a time when demand for children’s services in rural areas has risen significantly over the past few years. They also face employment barriers such as reductions in rural and community bus services, skills gaps and low productivity.

Localis’ recent work on the Industrial Strategy and ‘stuck communities’ explores social mobility issues across England.

The County APPG has today (28th March) launched a call for written evidence. The inquiry invites written submission of no more than 3,000 words, specifically on:

  1. What are the barriers and challenges facing counties and local partners in securing greater levels of social mobility?
  2. How visible are opportunities in counties for opportunities that could improve social mobility, such as higher/ further education, skills training and apprenticeships, or employment.
  3. How do county councils, unitary councils and partners currently support social mobility in rural areas

The full call for written evidence can be downloaded here, which includes additional information on the evidence the inquiry is seeking.

The deadline for written submission is Thursday 10th May. For those interested in submitting evidence, or for more information, email James Holden at CCN here.

We welcome contributions from the full range of public sector agencies, their national representative bodies, public and private sector providers, businesses, third sector, and community groups. We are particularly interested in hearing about case studies setting out how counties, county unitaries and partners are seeking to improve social mobility in their areas.

Stakeholders will be invited to contribute to oral evidence sessions during June. Please indicate in your written evidence whether your organisation would be willing to take part.

This evidence will form the basis of a report to be published later this year.

The inquiry will focus on what opportunities are available to young people in counties; specifically on provision and impact of early years, education, skills, and jobs.

The CCN provides the secretariat for the County All Party Parliamentary Group and will provide research and secretarial support for the inquiry. Localis will be providing new insights and research to drive the report’s narrative. All three organisations say they are particularly interested to hear case studies from county authorities and wider public sector providers who are seeking to improve social mobility in their areas.

Peter Aldous MP, chairman of the County All Party Parliamentary Group, said:

“Last year’s State of the Nation report provided an important overview of the social mobility postcode lottery in England, illustrating that many of our great counties are being left behind.

“This inquiry aims to provide new insights on how we can improve life chances for our young people living in counties, and how we can ensure rural workers have the skills to do the jobs of tomorrow.”




Liam Booth-Smith, chief executive of Localis, said:

“Establishing a sense of aspiration in everyone should be a cornerstone to building a country that works for everyone

“Our recent research has honed in on some of the very real social and economic challenges faced by parts of the country – areas that are stuck or sliding into insignificance.

“For Localis this is about how we raise the level of aspiration and opportunity in those places.