Social Mobility

Social Mobility

Working hard to promote social mobility across the UK

Working hard to promote social mobility across the UK

A person’s social or economic background can have a huge impact on their ability to reach their full potential in life - a disadvantage which often passes on from generation to generation. 

One in five UK children live in absolute poverty. Poor children are four times as likely to become poor adults as other children. Social mobility is about breaking this cycle of disadvantage. It is about giving everyone the chance to succeed and to meet their full potential.

Social mobility is at the core of our corporate responsibility agenda.  Our social mobility programmes are ambitious and our determination to support disadvantaged communities has become even stronger as a result of our prestigious appointment as one of twelve founding Social Mobility Business Compact Champions.

Social mobility in numbers

In FY2014 and FY 2015 more than 26,000 individuals were directly supported through our social mobility programmes. KPMG employees contributed over 90,100 hours of volunteering and pro bono work to the wider community in support of social mobility.


We focus on six key issues that we believe can help drive real change using the skills and experience of our people:

Preparing young people for the world of work

Poor employment skills and a lack of meaningful careers advice and work experience can prevent some young people reaching their potential – especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. In 2013-14, we worked with over 130 schools and colleges across the UK, supporting over 12,000 young people, sharing our experience of the world of work, improving skills and increasing academic achievement.

Our co-sponsored school – The City Academy, Hackney – celebrated an outstanding set of GCSE results for its first cohort of students in 2014, ranking the school as the best mixed comprehensive in the country for pupil progress and value added.

Increasing fair access to the profession

Society’s future success depends on business creating jobs and recruiting talented people from a wide variety of backgrounds. At KPMG, we recognise the benefits in recruiting talented people from diverse backgrounds to ensure our business mirrors the communities we work in and serve.

We are already an industry leader in developing programmes for school and college leavers to widen participation – and we’re now doing more with KPMG360°, an apprenticeship programme that will develop the next generation of rounded business advisors from a wide variety of backgrounds, using the Government’s Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standards. 

In 2014, KPMG and professional body ICAEW saw an idea they had jointly initiated and championed come to realisation – the ambitious industry-wide collaboration Access Accountancy. Designed to improve access to the profession for young people from low income families, Access Accountancy is now backed by over 25 firms and professional bodies.

Improving literacy for young people

In the UK’s most disadvantaged communities, up to 40 percent of people may have literacy problems. A major 2013 report by KPMG, the National Literacy Trust (NLT) and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy also highlighted the significant gap between school leavers' literacy levels and employers' expectations.

As well as working directly with young people to improve their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, our partnership with NLT continues to focus on reframing the UK’s literacy policy. 

NLT launched Vision for Literacy 2025 in November at Parliament with KPMG as a sponsor. We have also supported NLT to develop te first Vision for Literacy Business Pledge - which highlights the commitment of business to tackling the literacy crisis across the UK. We are the first signatories to the pledge.

Increasing access to affordable and secure housing

The UK is not building enough homes – and hasn’t done so for decades. The consequences of this are having a severe and lasting impact on people’s lives and on the country itself. 

Published in May 2014, KPMG and Shelter co-authored a landmark affordable housing report, Building the homes we need: A programme for the 2015 government. The report called on government to tackle and turn the tide on England’s chronic housing shortage.

Before the General Election this year we chose to raise our voice on the UK’s housing crisis, and published new research into the affordability gap. 

Our findings revealed a very stark truth  - that there is now a gap in every UK region between the amount a first time buyer needs to earn to afford to buy a home, and their actual average salary. UK-wide, the salary needed is £41,000, compared with average annual incomes of just £22,000. 

We also published findings from a poll of 10,000 people asking their views on the current state of the housing market. The results showed 73% of respondents are clear they’d rather own than rent, while 67% said there wasn’t enough affordable housing in the UK.  

Being able to live in a stable home is a basic human need, but something that now only few can hope for. We are calling on the Government to act decisively on this key issue, and meet the housing needs in the UK.

Tackling low pay through the Living Wage

The Living Wage is an hourly rate of pay calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK – currently £9.40 in London and £8.25 outside the capital. By being paid a living wage, people can be freed from living in working poverty.

In 2006, KPMG was not only one of the very first employers to pay the Living Wage to its employees and contracted staff, we also became a key driver of the Living Wage campaign.

We believe that it’s not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense in terms of greater motivation, productivity and staff retention. 

We are a partner of the Living Wage Foundation's and each year we publish an authoritative report highlighting the current trends in household finances and the numbers of workers earning less than the Living Wage. As a result of the Living Wage Foundation's research, it has been estimated that at least 100,000 families have been taken out of working poverty.

Encouraging youth leadership

Half of the world's population is made up of young people under the age of 25. They are tomorrow's business, government and society leaders. 

At KPMG we want to enable young people from all backgrounds to shape the future rather than letting it be predetermined by circumstances outside their control.

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