Whitehall mandarins spent £370,000 on unconscious bias training


Revealed: Whitehall mandarins spent £370,000 on unconscious bias training despite doubts about its effectiveness

  • Seven Government departments spent £370,000 on unconscious bias training
  • The Department for Work and Pensions came top with £112,500 over two years
  • Civil Service Talent Action Plan required workers to be taught unconscious bias  
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission found no proof the training helped

Whitehall mandarins have spent more than £370,000 on unconscious bias training – despite doubts about whether it is effective.

Seven Government departments spent the combined sum in the past five years on face-to-face workshops. The cost to taxpayers is on top of online training provided by the Civil Service Learning website for which departments pay an annual subscription.

The Department for Work and Pensions came top with £112,500 spent over two years on lessons for 720 people – an average cost of £156 per head. The Department for Education came second on £92,500, followed by the Business Department at £77,600.

During a series of parliamentary questions, Health Minister Edward Argar told backbencher Neil O’Brien: ‘It is not possible to extract the amount spent on Unconscious Bias where this forms part of a broader training offer’ – meaning that the true cost could be even higher.

The Department for Work and Pensions came top with £112,500 spent over two years on lessons for 720 people – an average cost of £156 per head (file image)

The 2014 Civil Service Talent Action Plan included a requirement that all civil servants learn about unconscious bias. 

But research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the effectiveness of such training found little evidence it can change behaviour.

Tory MPs have reacted with fury to plans to introduce similar training in the House of Commons, with one consultancy firm receiving nearly £800,000 to run lessons.

During a series of parliamentary questions, Health Minister Edward Argar (pictured) told backbencher Neil O¿Brien: ¿It is not possible to extract the amount spent on Unconscious Bias where this forms part of a broader training offer¿

During a series of parliamentary questions, Health Minister Edward Argar (pictured) told backbencher Neil O’Brien: ‘It is not possible to extract the amount spent on Unconscious Bias where this forms part of a broader training offer’

Conservative MP Ben Bradley said: ‘I’m hugely concerned both at the cost of these courses, added to the cost of those for Commons staff, for example, which would bring this figure to over a million quid, with more in the pipeline.

‘I don’t think that’s value for taxpayers whatsoever. The suggestion that we are all deeply and innately racist in our approach without knowing it is highly controversial identity politics, and it should have no place in our public institutions in my view.’

The Mail on Sunday revealed a fortnight ago that there were 180 diversity officers employed across nine Whitehall departments.

Since then, a further 34 have been found working at three more departments including 22 at the Department for Work and Pensions. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk