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Government’s Civil Service graduate scheme discriminates against black applicants, Labour analysis finds

CAMPAIGNERS warned today that the government’s Civil Service graduate scheme is discriminatory after Labour Party analysis found that black applicants are three times less likely to be successful than their white peers.

Official figures covering recruitment to the Civil Service Fast Stream programme since 2019 reveal “yawning” ethnic inequalities, the party charged.

Record numbers of graduates have applied to join the scheme, which is designed to fast-track people into senior government positions, with more than 160,800 external applicants for just 3,290 places in the last three years. 

However, the chances of being accepted differed greatly depending on ethnic background.

Some 122,000 white people have applied over the last three years, with just over 2,700 winning a place, a success rate of one in 44.

But, of 14,042 black and minority ethnic (BAME) applicants, only 98 have been successful, a rate of one in 143.

The massive disparity means that young BAME people are three times less likely than white applicants — and the least likely of all ethnic groups — to get onto the programme, with a success rate of just 0.6 per cent.

Branding the finding a “disgrace,” shadow women and equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds said: “Conservative incompetence and denial of the existence of structural racism are creating barriers to success for young people from ethnic minority backgrounds.”

Black Activists Rising Against Cuts co-founder Zita Holbourne argued that fast-track schemes “have been proven to discriminate and disadvantage black workers.”

They are more likely to favour students from less ethnically diverse Russell Group universities and aid “an elite system benefiting the privileged over working-class and economically disadvantaged groups,” she told the Morning Star. 

Ms Holbourne added: “Black workers are disproportionately in the lower grades of the Civil Service and face discrimination in appraisal and barriers to progression and promotion.

“The fast-track programme needs to be equality-proofed and any adverse disproportionate impacts on race grounds addressed.

“Decolonisation, culture and elitism must also be addressed if the scheme is to change to one that is fair and equitable for all.”

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Our latest data shows that the fast stream is making progress in recruiting the best people from every part of British society.

“We know that there is more to do, which is why we have outreach work in the most diverse schools, colleges and universities.”

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