Spending rises

Sharp hike in diversity staff at Scottish government

Scottish Parliament Holyrood
Scottish ministers have hired more diversity and inclusion officials (pic: Terry Murden)

The Scottish government is under fire for a sharp intake of equality, diversity and inclusion officers now costing £4 million a year.

As ministers blame Westminster for imposing budget constraints, the last year has seen the Holyrood administration increase the number of officials in these roles from 42 to 74. They include three directors of equality and inclusion on annual salaries of £117,800.

The actual total is likely to be higher as this data excludes public bodies such as the Crown Office, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, and Scottish Forestry, The Times reports.

Additional public funds have been spent on staff training courses on diversity, including more than £3,000 on a scheme that has been abandoned by several prominent public sector organisations.

Among the roles are three policy officers for student equalities and wellbeing on a combined salary of up to £147,000, and a police workforce equality and diversity team leader, on up to £70,000.

The UK government has ordered the NHS to reduce specific diversity and inclusion roles as part of efforts to “ensure good value for money”.

Last month, the Conservative “minister for common sense”, Esther McVey, took aim at what she dubbed “wasteful” spending on equality, diversity and inclusion by public bodies.

Meghan Gallacher, the Scottish Conservative deputy leader, said: “While the principle of equality, diversity and inclusion is vital, many people will question the scale of government spending on this area at a time when eye-watering cuts are being made by SNP ministers to essential public services, due to their gross mismanagement of Scotland’s finances.

“The SNP government must ensure they allocate money and civil service resources in line with the most pressing priorities.”

A spokesman for the Scottish government said: “The figures referred to include policy work such as addressing health inequalities and promoting inclusive economic growth.

“In common with many organisations, we are committed to ensuring civil servants receive every opportunity to upskill and attend training courses to better serve the people and interests of Scotland.”

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