UK Minister Bans Civil Service Jobs Dedicated to Diversity and Inclusion

UK Cabinet Office minister Esther McVey announces a ban on civil service jobs dedicated to equality, diversity, and inclusion, citing wasteful spending. New guidance requires ministerial sign-off on external EDI spending, and managers are banned from hiring third-party EDI contractors.

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Nitish Verma
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UK Minister Bans Civil Service Jobs Dedicated to Diversity and Inclusion

UK Minister Bans Civil Service Jobs Dedicated to Diversity and Inclusion

Esther McVey, the UK's Cabinet Office minister, has announced a ban on civil service jobs dedicated to equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). McVey claims that public money is being wasted "on woke hobby horses" and that the public sector must not become a "pointless job creation scheme for the politically correct."

Why this matters: This move marks a significant shift in the UK government's approach to diversity and inclusion initiatives, which could have far-reaching implications for public sector policies and spending. The debate over EDI spending is likely to intensify ahead of the general election, with potential consequences for the government's approach to social and economic issues.

Under the new plans, there will be no more devoted EDI jobs in Whitehall outside human resources, and no more staff working solely on EDI work. New guidance will require ministerial sign-off on all external EDI spending across the Civil Service. McVey stated, "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."

The move is designed to halt the "back-door politicisation" of the civil service and will also see managers banned from bringing in third-party EDI contractors. McVey argued, "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 launched a review on spending on EDI schemes throughout the public sector in October 2023, which identified £27 million worth of spending. Spending on EDI has regularly been slammed by right-wing Tories, and promises to save public money by slashing such policies are likely to grow louder ahead of the general election.

McVey, the MP for Tatton in Cheshire, has warned that the public sector must not become a "pointless job creation scheme for the politically correct." She also confirmed she would be asking the arms-length bodies, which had spent the most on EDI, how their schemes benefitted taxpayers. In 2021, Liz Truss, then the equalities minister, pulled Whitehall departments out of a "diversity champions" programme operated by charity Stonewall after it was accused of pushing extreme ideologies.

The ban on civil service jobs dedicated to EDI marks a significant shift in the government's approach to diversity and inclusion initiatives. While proponents argue these programs promote equal opportunities, critics claim they waste taxpayer money and push political agendas. As the general election approaches, the debate over EDI spending in the public sector is set to intensify, with right-wing Tories likely to make it a key issue in their campaign to cut government waste.

Key Takeaways

  • UK Cabinet Office minister Esther McVey bans civil service jobs dedicated to equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).
  • No more EDI jobs outside HR, and ministerial sign-off required for external EDI spending.
  • McVey claims EDI spending is a "woke hobby horse" and a waste of public money.
  • Review finds £27m spent on EDI schemes in public sector, with right-wing Tories pushing to cut waste.
  • Debate over EDI spending set to intensify ahead of general election, with implications for public sector policies.