Hunt to step up war on ‘woke’ civil service jobs
A FRESH clampdown is looming next week on the ‘swathes’ of costly ‘ boxticking’ woke jobs in the civil service.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will announce in his Autumn Statement the results of an urgent audit of all equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) spending in Whitehall.
He is expected to announce further measures to curb the spread of the controversial posts, believed by ministers to be a waste of money, having already announced a hiring freeze across government departments.
Some departments employ as many as 30 equality and diversity officers, with the total across Whitehall well over 100. And a central ‘inclusive practice team’ within the Cabinet Office is still recruiting new staff.
Mandarins are understood to be resisting the crackdown, arguing that the public sector equality duty enshrined in law forces them to monitor and publish reports on their drives to reduce discrimination. Last night a Treasury source told the Mail: ‘ We need to drive out inefficiency and waste in government to keep the tax burden low into the long term.
‘The Chancellor has already instigated an immediate civil service recruitment cap, and now we want to see a reduction in equality, diversity and inclusion roles.
‘Stopping discrimination should be every manager’s job, not a box you tick by hiring swathes of people.’
Former minister Sir John Hayes said: ‘They sound positive – who could be against including people or giving them an equal chance? But, unfortunately, inclusion and equality have come to mean something quite different . . .
‘This growing preoccupation with these jobs has to come to an end. Let’s count the cost, then eliminate the cost.’ The department with the largest ‘dedicated team of people working on matters relating to equality, diversity, and inclusivity’ is the Department for Work and Pensions.
It had 23 staff in March 2021, which rose to 30 a year later. Next was the Home Office, which had 23 people in its diversity and inclusion team, followed by the Department for Transport with 11.
The Department for Education had eight staff working on ‘matters relating to equality, diversity and inclusivity’ while the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs had seven.
The Department for Business and Trade had five such staff with spending on their salaries totalling £258,479 in 2022-23 along with a further £16,990 on training.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet Office has an 11- strong civil service inclusive practice team, led by a senior civil servant, which is blamed by some in Westminster for spreading ‘wokery’ across the different departments.
In total, figures from ten of the main government departments show they employed 104 equality staff in 2022 but the true picture is likely to be far higher because several ministries did not provide answers.
A report last year by the Conservative Way Forward group, based on freedom of information responses, said there were as many as 255 staff working exclusively on equality across Whitehall at a cost to the taxpayer of £11.5 million a year.
Tory backbencher Nick Fletcher said: ‘The EDI agenda and its associated ideologies sow not unity but division, with their relentless focus on what divides us and our differences.
‘ It consumes staff time and resources desperately needed elsewhere. It is time for the Government to remove this agenda from the civil service, if necessary by legislation.
‘The public sector equality duty in the Equality Act is behind so much of this and it needs to be clarified and curtailed, or to be abolished.’
‘It sows division, not unity’