MCKINSTRY: Civil servants' bonuses linked to promoting inclusivity
LEO MCKINSTRY: As senior civil servants’ bonuses are linked to promoting inclusivity… From African drumming classes to books on white supremacy, how the public sector pours hundreds of millions into the diversity money pit
The woke revolution has become official policy in Whitehall. It is as though Sir Humphrey from Yes Minister has joined forces with the Socialist Workers Party to create a hybrid form of bureaucracy where radical ideology has been grafted on to the traditional box-ticking mindset of civil servants.
This weekend, it was revealed that senior mandarins are being encouraged in official documents to push a ‘diversity and inclusion’ agenda in order to qualify for bonuses.
‘Members of the senior civil service must demonstrate that they have made a significant corporate contribution’ beyond their core roles, insists the document in classic Whitehall-speak.
‘This includes work at the cross- government functional level, for example involving leadership of functional initiative on capability building or diversity or inclusion.’
In other words, Sir Humphreys are increasingly being judged on their willingness to promote social justice rather than the ability to do their job.
The woke revolution has become official policy in Whitehall (pictured: HM Treasury Building at the corner of Parliament Square and Parliament Street)
The late Nigel Lawson (pictured), Margaret Thatcher’s finest Chancellor, once famously said the NHS was the closest thing the English have to religion. If that is true, then cultural diversity is the new creed of the public sector
The development is yet more proof that public institutions have utterly surrendered to the fashionable, politically correct agenda.
The late Nigel Lawson, Margaret Thatcher’s finest Chancellor, once famously said the NHS was the closest thing the English have to religion. If that is true, then cultural diversity is the new creed of the public sector.
This is being imposed by a new priesthood, made up of a swelling class of taxpayer-funded officials.
A recent study by the think-tank Conservative Way Forward estimates that there at least 10,000 state employees whose work involves the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion, with a total bill for the taxpayer of more than £557 million.
READ MORE: Senior civil servants warn Whitehall is facing a ‘woke takeover’ amid claims staff who dare to air gender-critical view now face ‘serious harassment’
Despite the occasional burst of tough rhetoric, Conservative ministers have been ineffective in resisting the tide, and the trend has accelerated since the party took office in 2010.
The expansion of the diversity industry was once hailed as an indicator of corporate Britain’s determination to tackle problems such as inequality, misogyny and racism.
Hiring a bunch of well-upholstered pen-pushers who collected reams of data, spouted jargon and attended endless meetings was not a waste of taxpayers’ money, but a signal of compassionate intent.
The growth of the woke bureaucracy was an end in itself; the bigger the diversity department, the more the organisation cared.
Conversely, in this climate of moral blackmail, a proposal to reduce the diversity budget could be interpreted as an attack on the very idea of equality.
But Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has seen through this fallacy. In advance of the Tory Party conference in October, he announced that the Treasury would conduct an audit of all equity, diversity and inclusion expenditure in the civil service.
The Government, he promised, would be ‘changing our approach to equality and diversity initiatives. Smashing glass ceilings is everyone’s job — not a box to be ticked by hiring a diversity manager’. It can only be hoped that he really is ready for combat.
The industry is certainly ripe for major surgery, having become hopelessly bloated on the largesse of the taxpayer.
As spending has spiralled out of control, costly diversity teams have encroached everywhere.
But Chancellor Jeremy Hunt (pictured) has seen through this fallacy. In advance of the Tory Party conference in October, he announced that the Treasury would conduct an audit of all equity, diversity and inclusion expenditure in the civil service
In Whitehall alone, it is estimated that £12 million a year is spent on 255 diversity and inclusion civil servants. The Department for Work and Pensions employs 30 of them, the Home Office 23 and the Department for Transport 11; another 11 are based in a central unit for the entire civil service.
No part of the state machine is free from this sort of officialdom. HM Revenue and Customs is reported to have 23 diversity officers, costing the taxpayer £1.4 million a year.
Local government, which continually wails about cash shortages, is said to have 794 equality, diversity and inclusion staff employed at a cost of £30 million, including 40 at Leicestershire County Council and 13 at Manchester City Council.
READ MORE: Jeremy Hunt to step up the war on ‘woke’ civil service jobs with the results of an equality, diversity, and inclusion audit announced in his Autumn Statement
The Greater London Authority has recently been advertising for three new recruits of this type, headed by an Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Cultural Lead, on a salary of £75,750, to ensure the GLA ‘reflects London’s diversity at all levels of its workforce’, followed by a £60,394-a-year Equalities Policy and Projects Officer ‘to address structural equalities within London’ and an Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Culture Adviser on £48,831.
Similarly the police, despite their complaints of overstretched budgets, spend £10 million a year on equality staff, with each force employing around five such officers.
The West Midlands constabulary seemingly cannot manage without an Assistant Director of Diversity on £82,000 and a Positive Action Manager on up to £59,000; while the West Yorkshire force has 16 full-time equivalent positions at a cost of £500,000 a year.
It is the same story with other agencies of the state and quangos. So the Bank of England has 11 full-time diversity staff, costing £650,000, and the Crown Prosecution Service has 21 — with a bill to the taxpayer of £945,000.
Beyond these highly paid roles, Jeremy Hunt would have scope for even bigger tax cuts if he could rein in other extravagant elements of equality expenditure, such as the whopping £150 million a year spent on diversity and inclusion training for public sector staff.
The Conservative Way Forward think-tank also found that since the start of the Covid pandemic, £212 million had been spent on public procurement contracts related to race, sexuality, unconscious bias and other politically controversial issues.
One such contract, worth £30 million, was for the ‘provision of specialist Equality, Diversity and Inclusion advice’ to NHS England. Another, worth £10 million, was to establish a ‘Race Observatory’ for the NHS Confederation to examine health inequalities among ethnic minorities.
In Whitehall alone, it is estimated that £12 million a year is spent on 255 diversity and inclusion civil servants
Some of this kind of training is frivolous, such as African drumming sessions for staff at Warwickshire County Council, or the time spent by employees of the Intellectual Property Office on the ‘Respect at Work Board Game’.
But there are more sinister aspects, verging on indoctrination, such as a campaign funded by the Arts Council that taught participants how to ‘unlearn whiteness’.
On the official website of Health Education England —whose equality team includes a National Programme Support Manager, a National Diversity and Participation Lead, a National Business Support Officer and seven regional managers — the recommended reading list embraces titles such as The Characteristics Of White Supremacy Culture and White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack.
The divisive influence of identity politics is also reflected in the increasing proliferation of staff support networks designed to chall- enge prejudices and promote awareness of differing needs.
In the quest to cater for ever more sophisticated calibrations of oppression, the Ministry of Defence has 65 of these groups, including a ‘menopause’ network, a ‘gender’ network, a ‘Defence Rastafari’ network and a ‘vegan and vegetarian’ network.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has 25, among them a ‘stammering’ network, and an ‘inflammatory bowel disease’ network.
Similarly, the police have a ‘Pagan Association’, which aims to ‘improve the relationship between the pagan community and the police’. A study by the Taxpayers’ Alliance recently found that, in Whitehall alone, £309,000 has been spent in the past three years on these networks across 12 departments.
That was the experience of Steve Barclay (pictured) as Health Secretary earlier this year when he was appalled to discover that NHS England was spending £40 million a year on around 800 diversity officers
In this arena of grievance, no category of suffering is ignored. Whitehall has even set up a ‘Cross Government Introverts Network’. The official guidance for this group states that ‘many introverts find it hard to get their voices heard’, so the new network will ‘build a supportive community that helps develop introverts’.
It seems no one can be left out of this orgy of bureaucratic concern. The Civil Service LGBT+ Network produced material on the neglect endured by asexual people, who, apparently ‘feel invisible as a result of the lack of recognition’, suffer from a ‘lack of role models’ and ‘are more likely to experience bullying, harassment and discrimination’.
READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: ‘Women’s Network’ at the Department for Work and Pensions is open to MEN and people ‘who do not identify with a gender’, civil service application form reveals
One civil servant complained asexuality ‘isn’t listed once’ on the diversity training courses. Another moaned that ‘as a heteroromantic asexual, I sometimes feel pressured to identify as ‘heterosexual’ even though I am not’.
The wails of outrage will grow ever louder if Hunt presses ahead with real cuts. He will have a fight on his hands with the progressive Blob in Whitehall which will ferociously defend the status quo.
That was the experience of Steve Barclay as Health Secretary earlier this year when he was appalled to discover that NHS England was spending £40 million a year on around 800 diversity officers.
But his attempt to reduce the excess had only a limited impact. Rather than heeding Barclay’s call for a moratorium on these roles, NHS England drew up plans to create three new units called ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion’, ‘People and Culture’ and ‘People and Communities’, with 244 employees and a staffing budget of £14 million a year; this at a time when NHS unions and _managers were indulging in their usual shroud-waving about the lack of resources.
As Frank Young, a research director from the respected, independent think-tank Civitas said: ‘We’re constantly told that the NHS is underfunded but then budgets are made available for NHS managers fretting over diversity targets instead of medical care.’
The Blob will also defend itself with the law, citing the 2010 Equality Act which imposed a statutory duty on public bodies to promote inclusion and equality.
The architect of that legislation, Labour’s then Deputy Leader Harriet Harman, said proudly that it would create ‘a new social order’.
She wasn’t wrong. The shame is that for too long, the Tories have colluded with this experiment in social engineering.
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