'Who you know' counts, survey says
Almost two-thirds of people believe "who you know" matters more than "what you know" when it comes to getting on in life, a survey for the government's social mobility commission suggests.
The poll also found 84% felt employers should pay wages which better reflect the true cost of living.
Commission chairman and ex-Labour minister Alan Milburn said mobility must not be allowed to "flatline".
The government says it is committed to improving poorer children's prospects.
The poll of 2,272 adults for the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission found 76% believed family background significantly influenced an individual's chances of doing well in life.
Some 65% of the public thought "who you know matters more than what you know" in relation to careers.
But there was a split when people were asked about their own background, with 41% agreeing and 41% disagreeing that their parents' income had influenced where they had got to in life.
Mr Milburn said: "These findings show the high levels of public concern about unfairness in Britain.
"Flatlining social mobility and rising child poverty is not a viable proposition for our country.
"Both government and employers should heed the call to pay decent wages to help the forgotten five million people who are the working poor."
Anne Marie Carrie, chief executive of children's charity Barnardo's, said: "The public's overwhelming belief that it's income, education and jobs that drive life chances must now guide the government to take urgent action to improve children's futures."
A government spokesman said: "Our welfare and education reforms will help families to find and progress in work, support aspiration and ensure that children growing up today are equipped to get good jobs in the future."
He added: "Work remains the best way out of poverty, which is why we are reforming welfare to make work pay."