Appendix 2: Memorandum by the Department
for Education, Department for Work and Pensions and the Cabinet
Chair- Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission
The Welfare Reform Act, which received Royal Assent
on 8 March 2012, provides for the establishment of a Social Mobility
and Child Poverty Commission. This Commission will be an Advisory
Non Departmental Public Body established to monitor progress,
by Government and others in society, against the objectives of
improving social mobility and reducing child poverty. In doing
so, it will consider the broad range of child poverty, life chances
and social mobility indicators, set out in the Social Mobility
and the Child Poverty Strategies. It will publish annual independent
report/s to Government on progress made towards improving social
mobility and reducing child poverty. It will consist of a Chair,
a Deputy Chair and up to 7 members, two of whom will be appointees
of the Scottish and Welsh Governments (one each).
Child Poverty Strategies
The Child Poverty Strategy 'Tackling the Causes of
Disadvantage and Transforming Families' Lives' sets out the framework
to tackle child poverty from 2011-2014, and provides this Government's
first step towards laying out a new approach for ending child
poverty. It focuses on a broad set of policies that target the
drivers of poverty and incentivises action, and is founded on
the understanding that poverty is not just about income and must
also build the wider life chances of children to increase opportunity
The Government aims to reduce child poverty across
the United Kingdom. However, there is recognition that many of
the policy levers which are needed to reduce child poverty are
the responsibility of the Devolved Administrations and that many
of the actions outlined in the strategy will only apply to England.
Each of the Devolved Administrations is responsible for producing
their own strategy on child poverty and for taking action in those
areas where policy is devolved.
The Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland sets out
the Scottish Government's approach to tackling child poverty.
It makes clear that tackling child poverty is a long term undertaking,
with many factors influencing child poverty levels. It highlights
the case that the causes and effects of poverty and inequality
are complex and multi-dimensional, and require a range of interventions
and responses. These must address the underlying causes of poverty,
not just the symptoms, as poverty is about much more than a lack
of income. On this basis, the strategy sets out 2 main aims in
respect to tackling child poverty. They are: to maximise household
resources; and to improve children's wellbeing and life chances.
The strategy focuses on policy matters that are devolved to the
Scottish Parliament and Scottish Ministers, and sets out a range
of policies that will be applied over the course of the strategy.
The Child Poverty Strategy for Wales sets out the
Welsh Government's vision and strategic objectives for reducing
child poverty in Wales. These are to: reduce the number of families
living in workless households; improve the skills of parents and
young people living in low income households so they can secure
well-paid employment; and reduce inequalities that exist in health,
education and economic outcomes of children and families by improving
the outcomes of the poorest.
The strategy gives a clear account of what the Welsh
Government can achieve in helping to reduce poverty with a specific
focus on policies devolved to them. The strategy sets out a distinctive
Welsh approach to the provision of public services that can address
the long-term root causes of poverty.
Social Mobility Strategy
The Social Mobility Strategy "Opening Doors,
Breaking Barriers" set out the Government's vision of a socially
mobile country where no-one is prevented from fulfilling their
potential by the circumstances of their birth, and established
improving social mobility as the principal goal of the Government's
The strategy focuses on relative inter-generational
social mobilitythe extent to which people's success in
life is determined by who their parents areand aims to
break the link between social background and outcomes at every
stage of life: from the Foundation Years through school and the
transition into adulthood and work.
The strategy developed a set of leading indicators
of long-term improvements in social mobility, looking at the gaps
by social background in outcomes at each life stage. These have
been included in Departmental Business Plans, ensuring that social
mobility is placed at the heart of Whitehall policymaking and
giving the public the information necessary to hold the Government
The Key Requirements of the Post of Chair
The Chair will be required to:
- establish the Commission as an influential and
credible voice on social mobility and child poverty;
- ?lead the Commission and set its agenda; chair
- ?ensure that the Commission provides, and publishes,
the requested advice and/or research in its annual progress report/s
to Government; and
- ?be an advocate and challenger to external institutions
for the social mobility agenda.
In order to fulfil these, the Chair must be able
- Demonstrate commitment and success in improving
long-term outcomes for children and/or social mobility;
- Demonstrate a very high level of organisational
leadership, providing outstanding strategic direction and delivery
in either the public or private sector; and
- Demonstrate that they have a proven record in
building and sustaining effective working relationships with a
range of stakeholders.
Role and Person Specification
The Chair will need to ensure the Commission fulfils
its remit, as set out in legislation, by:
- Establishing the Commission, identifying and
securing Ministerial agreement to the key priorities for the Commission,
and setting them out in an annual Business Plan;
- Leading the Commission, setting its agenda and
chairing meetings to provide the best possible progress report/s
on the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Strategies and targets;
- Ensuring the Commission responds appropriately,
effectively, and in a timely manner to requests for advice by
the Minister/s of the Crown;
- Being an advocate for the social mobility agenda:
holding to account and challenging key institutions in areas such
as Higher Education and the professions;
- Building and sustaining effective working relationships
with a range of stakeholders, including Ministers, senior Government
officials, representatives from local communities and experts
in the field;
- Being the public spokesperson for the Commission;
- Utilising the expertise and experience of Commission
members and securing Ministerial agreement to its commissioning;
- Ensuring active engagement by all members in
the business of the Commission, including encouraging them to
sustain their knowledge and understanding of the issues, reviewed
through an annual appraisal of each member.
Candidates were also expected to demonstrate:
- An in-depth and up-to-date understanding and
knowledge of issues relating to social mobility and/or child poverty,
including the wider policy context;
- A track record of strong negotiation, persuasion,
advocacy and diplomacy skills in challenging and influencing high-level
decision makers in a range of public, private and/or voluntary
- The ability to think strategically about wider
social mobility and child poverty issues, working with a range
of individuals and communities to set strategic direction within
the wider policy context to achieve results;
- Excellent leadership and interpersonal skills
to manage differing, strongly held opinions and agree clear, unequivocal
- Excellent communication and networking skills
to communicate with, and gain the confidence of, a variety of
audiences: Ministers, researchers, those in the social mobility
and child poverty sectors and media representatives in a professional
and credible manner; and
- Personal integrity, with commitment to maintaining
high standards in public life and promoting sound corporate governance.
- Experience of working with, and delivering effective
outcomes for children, young people and/or families.
Terms and Conditions
The appointments will be made by Ministers for a
period of no longer than five years, subject to a satisfactory
These posts are unremunerated. However, reasonable
expenses will be reimbursed, including travel expenses and subsistence.
As a post holder appointed for a limited duration, you will not
be eligible for compensation upon the ending of your appointment.
The process has been managed by the Commission Team
in the Child Poverty Unit, jointly sponsored by the Department
for Education, the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Treasury.
As with all public appointments the process for the appointment
of the Chair of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission
is required to follow the Code of Practice of the Commissioner
for Public Appointments (OCPA), and an OCPA assessor, Olivia Grant,
has overseen the process, including being part of the sift and
The keeping with Cabinet Office guidance, the post
was advertised on their public appointments website. Other activities
- Advertising it on the Knowledge Hub, administered
by the Local Government Association;
- All Individuals on the Register of Interest for
Public Appointments in Scotland were contacted;
- links were made on the Scottish Government website
and it was also published on the Employability and Tackling Poverty
- The advert was also directly sent to organisations
across Wales that have links with Welsh Government in relation
to Child Poverty.
- In addition, over 900 stakeholders working in
the social mobility and child poverty areas were also contacted
via email which included a link to the public appointments website.
The Selection Process
Sifting of applications
The panel met to consider applications from 8 candidates,
each of which provided evidence and examples of their ability
to meet the criteria as set out in the role and person specification.
The panel unanimously selected a shortlist of 4 for panel interview.
References on the shortlisted candidates were also obtained.
Ministers were advised of the successful candidates.
The panel included consisted of: Olivia Grant, Office
for the Commission for Public Appointments Assessor, who was the
Chair of the panel; Sue Owen, Director General, Strategy Group
Department for Work and Pensions; Tom Jeffery Director General,
Children, Young People and Families Department for Education;
and Caleb Deeks, Head of Deputy Prime Minister's Research and
Analysis Division, Cabinet Office. A note taker from the Child
Poverty Unit was also present.
The candidates started the interview with a short
presentation on: "How would you lead the Commission to contribute
to the government's goals of ending child poverty and improving
Following this were questions which covered the following
- Why the candidate had applied for the post;
- Strategic thinking and direction setting;
- Leadership skills and interpersonal skills;
- Negotiating, persuasion and advocacy section;
- Personal integrity and standards of public life;
- Conflicts of interest; and
- Time commitment.
All the candidates were assessed against the key
criteria. 2 candidates were assessed as being appointable as
Chair and our preferred candidate for the post of Chair is Alan