‘Class pay gap' revealed in Britain's professions

The Social Mobility Commission has found that professional people from working class backgrounds are paid £6,800 less than their colleagues from more affluent backgrounds.

In a new report, Social Mobility, the class pay gap and intergenerational worklessness, the Social Mobility Commission highlight the gap in earnings between professional people from poorer backgrounds compared to their peers from more affluent backgrounds.

Based upon extensive data from the UK Labour Force Survey, the largest survey of employment in the UK, the report finds that access to Britain’s professions remain dominated by those from more privileged backgrounds, with those from working class backgrounds who manage to break into a professional career facing an earnings penalty compared to colleagues who come from better-off backgrounds.

Despite colleagues having the same education attainment, role and experience, the report claims that the colleague from the poorer background is paid an average of £2,242 less than their more privileged colleague, representing a seven per cent difference.

Britain’s traditional professions of medicine, law, journalism and academia remain dominated by those from advantaged backgrounds, with 73 per cent of doctors originating from professional and managerial backgrounds with less than six per cent from working class backgrounds.

The report found the biggest class pay gaps exist in finance (£13,713), medicine (£10,218) and IT (£4,736).

Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said: “This unprecedented research provides powerful new evidence that Britain remains a deeply elitist society. Too many people from working class backgrounds not only face barriers getting into the professions, but also barriers to getting on.

“Many professional firms are doing excellent work to open their doors to people from all backgrounds, but this research suggests much more needs to be done to ensure that Britain is a place where everyone has an equal chance of success regardless of where they have come from.

“How much you are paid should be determined by your ability not your background. Employers need to take action to end the shocking class earnings penalty. The commission will be sending major employers details of this research and asking them how they intend to close the class pay gap.”