James Caan’s hypocrisy shows he brings nothing to the social mobility debate

This lunchtime I found myself smirking at James Caan’s advice that parents shouldn’t help their kids find jobs. There is little doubt that the family in which you’re born is the most significant determiner of your life, although not always in the most obvious or expected way, so it’s good to see the social mobility tzar recognise this. But his call for well off parents to help level the playing field, by refusing to advantage their children, is unlikely to gain much traction.

Caan’s advice is especially naive at a time when intergenerational lending is growing at such an alarming rate, some fear the bank of mum and dad could fail.  Tuition fees, affordable housing shortages and a general lack of opportunity for young people have all fuelled an unhealthy competition between parents to bail out adult offspring. Caan may be right to point out that this phenomenon is a huge barrier to social mobility, but that’s a statement of the obvious rather than a great insight.

Meanwhile Caan has helped show that an aptitude for business does not necessarily translate into an aptitude for social policy (or much else). Unable to follow his own advice, he employs his daughter.

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