Over three-quarters (77%) of the nearly 5,000 respondents to the survey feel there is a large gap between social classes in Britain, and 52% indicated the government should do more to help the least well-off.
More people (44%) believe that your chances in life are determined by your background than those who think everyone has equal opportunities (35%). Similarly, 39% of respondents said it is getting harder to improve your lot, compared with just 22% who think it is getting easier and 29% who think their opportunities have remained unchanged.
The poll also revealed that some sections of society are feeling more disadvantaged than others, with working classes and people living in the North reporting the greatest feeling of pessimism.
Where 35% of those who identify as working class say they are worse off than 10 years ago, only 22% of middle classes had the same concerns. However, this does seem to be an issue affecting a wide range of people, as fewer than 40% of respondents said they felt better off than 10 years ago.
People living in the North East were the most pessimistic about their social mobility, with just 31% of respondents from the area saying they think there are good opportunities for progression in their region. The North West was not far behind, with fewer than half (48%) of respondents feeling optimistic about their chances to improve their lot.
This compares starkly with Londoners and people who live in the South East, where 78% and 74% respectively felt they had good opportunities for progression.
Dame Martina, Chair of the Social Mobility Commission, urged the government to take heed of the results.
”This poll is a ‘call to action’ for this government to do more to help social mobility,” she said.
But she was clear that focusing simply on educational opportunities is not enough, as the poll revealed that only 29% of people felt they had better job security than their parents and fewer than half said they had a better standard of living.
Dame Martina said that ”much more attention is needed on training, jobs, and pay levels”.