Professionals with working class backgrounds are being hit by a class earnings penalty, warns government's social mobility tsar

Rebecca Smith
The Commission is asking major employers how they intend to close the
The Commission is asking major employers how they intend to close the "class pay gap" (Source: Getty)

Professionals from working class backgrounds are being punished by a "class pay gap", according to new research from the government's Social Mobility Commission.

They are paid an average of 17 per cent less (£6,800) each year, than colleagues from more affluent backgrounds.

The report, compiled by academics from the LSE and UCL using data from the UK Labour Force Survey, examined access to the professions and the impact of socio-economic background on earnings.

Read more: We won't close the City's gender pay gap without tackling family pressures

It found that access to professions is still dominated by those from more privileged backgrounds, and when those from working class backgrounds do secure a professional career, they face an earnings penalty.

Dr Sam Friedman, from the LSE said of the pay gap within the professions: "There are a number of reasons for this such as higher educational attainment among the privileged. But even when these factors are taken into account, this gap remains significant.”

When the individuals in question have the same education attainment, role and experience, the report found those from poorer backgrounds are paid an average of £2,242, or seven per cent, less.

Reasons given as to why those from working class backgrounds may not achieve the same earnings or levels of success were that they may be less likely to ask for pay rises or not have the same access to networks.

Read more: Most people still identify as working class

The Rt. Hon Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said the research provided "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," he said. "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."

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