Dedicated diversity jobs to be axed in Civil Service – ‘common sense’ minister

Esther McVey claimed public money is being wasted ‘on woke hobby horses’.

Conservative minister Esther McVey
Conservative minister Esther McVey (Jeff Moore/PA)

The Government’s “common sense” minister has announced a ban on jobs dedicated to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the Civil Service.

Esther McVey claimed public money was being wasted “on woke hobby horses” in an article in The Sunday Telegraph.

The Cabinet Office minister said that in future there would be no more devoted EDI jobs in Whitehall outside human resources, and no more staff working solely on EDI work.

Under the plans, new guidance would stop all external EDI spending across the Civil Service unless it is specifically signed off and cleared by ministers.

Ms McVey said she would also be meeting arms-length bodies which had spent the most on external EDI, asking them to explain how this spending was benefitting taxpayers.

The Tory MP for Tatton in Cheshire warned that the public sector must not become a “pointless job creation scheme for the politically correct”.

The amount of staff time taken up by diversity programmes was “a major concern”, she wrote.

“Time and money which should be spent on the core purpose of the public sector – delivering for the public – is being wasted on woke hobby horses.

“Most of these kinds of EDI programmes – especially when delivered by private companies or campaigning organisations – are not transparent, and their benefits unproven. If we can’t prove their worth, then they don’t pass the public interest test. So I’m determined to stop it.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in October launched a review on spending on EDI schemes throughout the public sector, with the findings now having been passed to the Cabinet Office.

Spending on EDI has become a recurring bugbear for right-wing Tories, and promises to save public money by slashing such policies are likely to grow louder ahead of the general election.

The Cabinet Office declined to say how many non-HR staff in the Civil Service are currently working solely on EDI.

Ms McVey will set out her plans in a speech at the Centre for Policy Studies in Westminster on Monday.