The Relationship Between Disability and Social Mobility – Research Project DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION

The Social Mobility Commission is inviting proposals for research to understand the relationship between disability and social mobility. This research forms part of the Social Mobility Commission’s role to produce relevant research that provides new data and insights on social mobility in the UK.

Despite clear evidence that disability is often a barrier to social mobility, there is too little understanding of how better support for disability would boost social mobility – either for individuals with disabilities or their children.

The Social Mobility Commission wants better to understand the relationship between disability and social mobility – looking across all stages of life – to inform policy by commissioning a research project that aims to answer the following research questions:
• How common are different types of disability for people from lower/higher socioeconomic groups (by age and other factors) and what might explain any correlation?
• How do educational and employment outcomes for people with disabilities vary by background? How common are other issues, such as exclusion from school or rates of entering custody? Why? How has this changed over time?
• How do diagnosis rates and access to support vary by background and why? How has this changed over time?
• What are specific barriers to social mobility faced by people with disabilities at each stage of life? And what are the barriers for the children of people with disabilities? (E.g., low levels of digital connectivity, smaller networks, lack of role models etc.)
• Which interventions work well – particularly for those from lower socioeconomic groups?
• How much could better support for people with disabilities boost social mobility?
We do not expect the researchers to answer every question in equal depth. We request that bidders indicate which questions and issues they will focus on primarily.

Existing literature and data analysis should be able to answer most of the above questions. However, a workshop with relevant experts (e.g., charities supporting people with disabilities) may be helpful to understand which interventions work well for those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds – as well as providing greater insight into barriers faced by those on lower incomes. The Commission could help facilitate such a workshop at very low cost. Any proposals should propose this or another low-cost solution.

The study will result in a report, to be published on the Social Mobility Commission website, which sets out the findings to the research. This research will support the work of the Social Mobility Commission in developing our analysis and policy recommendations.

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