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Councils funding the equalities industry

Local authorities, along with bits of the public sector have a legal obligation to "promote" equality. This requires much costly and worthless bureaucracy such as undertaking "equalities impact assessment." However it does not require the employment of diversity officers nor does it require funding for groups which seek to nurture resentments by campaigning and lobbying.

There is a charity that operates in my borough called Spear, which I am proud my council gives some money to, which helps get the young unemployed into work. On the course Spear run of their most basic messages is to stop thinking of yourself as a victim. Yet other councils spend their money on groups whose entire purpose is promotion of victimhood.

In the new Civitas report, The Rise of the Equalities Industry, sociology professor Peter Saunders includes several examples from local government.

The report says:

Racial Equality Councils nowadays rely mainly on local authorities and other public bodies for their money. In recent years, they have evolved in many areas into broader ‘equality partnerships’ in which local councils are directly involved together with various voluntary groups. In these cases, the focus is on equality and diversity in general, not just on race, and council grants are an integral component of their income.

Equality councils and partnerships can be found in most towns and counties in the UK. They are small organisations, each employing only a handful of people (a 2004 national audit found they employed an average of 8.25 staff, with numbers ranging from one to 25). But there are a lot of them. Examples we looked at include:

The Grampian Racial Equality Council, which is funded mainly by Aberdeen City Council (£97,000 in 2006-07), Aberdeenshire Council (£46,000), NHS Grampian (£14,000) and the Grampian Police (£25,000). Its total income in 2007-08 was £369,000.20

Race Equality Action Lewisham, funded wholly by a grant from the London Borough of Lewisham which was worth £154,000 in 2008-09.21

Plymouth and District Racial Equality Council, which employs ten members of staff and receives income in grants of £509,000 from a variety of public bodies including Plymouth City Council, Plymouth NHS, and various housing associations.

Peterborough Race Equality Council, which received £97,000 in grants in 2009-10, of which £54,000 came from the City Council, and £16,000 from the EHRC. It spent £72,000 on salaries.

Oxfordshire Racial Equality Council, which received £344,000 in 2008-09, of which £119,000 came from the EHRC, £31,000 from local district councils, and £8,000 from Thames Valley Police. It spent £305,000 on salaries.

Assume one hundred such bodies, each employing eight staff (in line with the 2004 National Audit figures). This would imply a total employment figure of around 800, at an annual cost of around £25 million (meaning each council or partnership would be averaging an annual budget of around quarter of a million pounds, which looks about right judging by our mini-sample).

But council spending on their own diversity officers is probably an even larger spending item as the Civitas report adds:

Local government, too, is an important employer in the equalities industry. We contacted several county councils, all of which had their own diversity teams which generally cost around £100 thousand each year to run. A survey in 2010 by the Taxpayers Alliance found that local authorities were funding the equivalent of 543 full-time equivalent diversity posts in all, at a cost of almost £20 million.

For example, Leicestershire CC has a ‘Policy and Partnerships Team’ based in the Chief Executive’s office and consisting of a full-time manager on around £40,000 pa, a full-time Senior Policy Officer on around £35,000, and a half- time Policy Officer on around £25,000. Its equalities agenda was budgeted in 2009-10 at around £90,000 in all. Worcestershire CC spends considerably more—about
£240,000 pa on its HR ‘Diversity Team’, and another £12,000 on staff diversity training. Devon CC says its ‘corporate equality budget’ is worth £80,000 pa. Northamptonshire CC has an Equality and Diversity Officer who is given a budget of around £40,000 for ‘events.’

Often this sort of spending is described as a waste of money. It is worse that that. As explained earlier it is spending which is harmful - especially for those it is supposed to help.


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