Race Matters

Ethnic minority civil servants paid less than white staff

Ethnic minority civil servants are paid up to a third less than their white colleagues, according to figures released today.

New Whitehall figures reveal that two departments, the Foreign Office and Culture, Media and Sport, paid their BME staff on average over 30 percent less per hour than non-BME staff.

Only four out of 20 departments recorded the data by grade, making it impossible to tell if there were any differences between senior Mandarins at the top or clerks and cleaners at the bottom.

Seven Whitehall ministry’s failed to provide figures at all, including 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office where the head of the civil service, cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood, is based.

Health, run by Jeremy Hunt, pay their BME staff £5.31 per hour less than white staff. The revelation will embarrass the department, especially as the NHS employs so many BME workers.

This pay gap is the equivalent to £480,000 over a lifetime, based on 90,000 working hours for the average worker until retirement, or almost double the UK average house price.

The statistics, obtained in response to a series of parliamentary questions by Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland, suggest that collecting information on racial disparities in the civil service is not high on the human resources agenda.

It is impossible to tell if the pay gap is a result of a low proportion of BME civil servants or whether colleagues are being paid different rates for the same jobs.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron condemned the pay gap and demanded that all Whitehall departments apply the most rigorous human resources standards to collecting BME pay and employment data.

He added: “We need to look at whether there are no BME people in certain positions or whether BME people are not being paid the same for the same posts.”

The pay gap between BME and white colleagues actually increased in the departments of Education, Communities and Local Government and the Foreign Office between 2015 and 2016.

The only department that eliminated a negative race pay gap is the Home Office, run by the new Prime Minister Theresa May for the last six years, Environment and Rural Affairs, and Transport.

The Treasury, who have been accused of failing to run equality impact audits on their national budgets, have larger pay gaps in the more senior ranks. The Chancellor’s department pays its’ top civil servants £3.20 per hour less than their white counterparts.

The Department of Justice, run by Michael Gove, refused to disclose figures along with Northern Ireland and the department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Work and Pensions, and Defence, claimed they were still working to compile the figures.

Yesterday, London mayor Sadiq Khan revealed that male City Hall employees are paid 4.6 percent more than women, or an average of £1.04 per hour more. 

The BME pay gap was more than double that in at least five out of 11 government departments, with the worst offenders the Foreign Office (-34%), Culture, Media and Sport (-32%), Health (-28%), Education and Communities and Local Government (both -14%).

13 years ago prime minister Tony Blair promised to eradicate the 'ethnic penalty' of the pay-gap between BAME and white workers.

A study by the University of Essex in 2012 found that "in 1993 white people earned an average of 18p an hour more than non-whites.

In London, supposedly the engine-room for the British economy and by far the most diverse city with over a third of the capital non-white, the GLA found that white workers in the capital earned, on average, £14.38p per hour in London, compared to £10.75p for BME workers.

Past studies have shown that this pay gap applies even when you measure equally-qualified white and BME workers. In other words, comparing like-for-like jobs still reveals a stark ethnic penalty.
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