We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Why do we try and define this group?

One of the barriers to tackling the disadvantages for those from low socioeconomic backgrounds is by stating that it is not possible to identify this group or highlighting the complexities of identifying this group. By providing a upporting definition we are providing a researched definition that represents the work of several groups that seeks specifically to address the disadvantage and barriers that are faced by those from low-socioeconomic backgrounds.

Aim: to develop a clear definition for those from low-socio economic backgrounds. One that can be used for the purpose of ensuring that equal opportunities are created for those from low-socio economic backgrounds.

Background: The Civil Service report "Measuring Socio-economic Background in your Workforce: recommended measures for use by employers" provides an analysis of some of the journey that shapes the proposals made today. They took dozens of questions that could be used to survey and measured these in terms of data gathered and usefulness in achieving the required result. This report was ground breaking but it s complexity in terms of analsing the responses has made it difficult to utilise.

In November 2020 the Social Mobility Commission provided an updated report "Simplifying how employers measure socio-economic background An accompanying report to new guidance". This report refines the recommendations. This demonstrates that the process is ongoing and subject to being continuously improved.
The recommendations specifically look at childhood as this is the time when disadvantage is established. It is not withstanding that an inidividual not from a low socioeconomic background may now be in a low socioeconomic status, the definition specificially addresses the disadvantages present through growing up in a low socioeconomic background.


Initial proposed question

Where people seek support on the basis of their background, they should be asked:-

Compared to people in general, would you describe yourself as coming from a lower socio-economic background?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Don't know
  • Prefer not to say

Personally, given we allow those from under-represented groups such as Race and Ethnicity, Sexual Orientation, Gender, Gender reassignment and Disability to self identify, I think this should be enough. If however, the Executive thinks that further information should be used, then I recommend we adopt the 4 questions as identified by the commission

Question 1
Note: bracketed text defines the codes we should categorise responses into and should not be included in surveys.

Question: What was the occupation of your main household earner when you were aged about 14?

  • Modern professional & traditional professional occupations such as: teacher, nurse, physiotherapist, social worker, musician, police officer (sergeant or above), software designer, accountant, solicitor, medical practitioner, scientist, civil / mechanical engineer. [code=professional background]
  • Senior, middle or junior managers or administrators such as: finance manager, chief executive, large business owner, office manager, retail manager, bank manager, restaurant manager, warehouse manager. [code=professional background]
  • Clerical and intermediate occupations such as: secretary, personal assistant, call centre agent, clerical worker, nursery nurse. [code=intermediate background]
  • Technical and craft occupations such as: motor mechanic, plumber, printer, electrician, gardener, train driver. [code=lower socio-economic background]
  • Routine, semi-routine manual and service occupations such as: postal worker, machine operative, security guard, caretaker, farm worker, catering assistant, sales assistant, HGV driver, cleaner, porter, packer, labourer, waiter/waitress, bar staff. [code=lower socio-conomic background]
  • Long-term unemployed (claimed Jobseeker's Allowance or earlier unemployment benefit for more than a year) [code=lower socio-economic background]
  • Small business owners who employed less than 25 people such as: corner shop owners, small plumbing companies, retail shop owner, single restaurant or cafe owner, taxi owner, garage owner [code=intermediate]
  • Other such as: retired, this question does not apply to me, I don't know [code=exclude]
  • I prefer not to say [code=exclude]

Question 2
Which type of school did you attend for the most time between the ages of 11 and 16?

  • A state-run or state-funded school
  • Independent or fee-paying school [code=professional background]
  • Independent or fee-paying school, where I received a bursary covering 90% or more of my tuition
  • Attended school outside the UK
  • I don't know
  • Prefer not to say

    This question does not identify those from a low socio-economic background but does provide a response that can be used to identify those not from a low-socio economic background.

    Question 3
    If you finished school after 1980, were you eligible for free school meals at any point during your school years?
  • Yes [code=lower socio-economic background]
  • No
  • Not applicable (finished school before 1980 or went to school overseas)
  • I don't know
  • Prefer not to say

    Question 4
    Did either of your parents attend university by the time you were 18?
  • No, neither of my parents attended university
  • Yes, one or both of my parents attended university
  • Do not know / not sure
  • Prefer not to say

    The Scoring based on these Questions would be:

    Question 1: Code = Lower Socio Economic Background

Question 2 either: Independent or fee-paying school, where I received a bursary covering 90% or more of my tuition or A state-run or state-funded school

Question 3: Yes

Question 4: No neither of my parents attended a university