‘Minister for Common Sense’ to ‘look carefully’ at use of equality and diversity consultants

A government minister has said taxpayers’ money is being wasted on equality and diversity consultants as she vowed to “look carefully” at spending in the area.

Veteran Tory MP Esther McVey, the “minister for common sense” who was given the unofficial title after her appointment to the Cabinet Office in Rishi Sunak’s last reshuffle, took aim at what she dubbed “wasteful” public spending in an article in the Daily Mail.

The MP for Tatton in Cheshire was seen as a prominent right-wing appointment by the prime minister with a mission to tackle “woke” issues in Whitehall.

In a piece for the newspaper, she laid out her plan to target a “wasteful” use of public money, adding she would be guided by “my three Rs”. The first was representation; encouraging more people outside London to fill key roles.

The jobs roles, she added, needed greater diversity in terms of background, geography and in thought and belief - and not the “usual ethnic and gender diversity”.

She continued: “I am looking carefully at the government’s expenditure on external ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ consultants.

“To me the common sense solution is one set of guidance for the whole civil service to follow.

Esther McVey has said she is committed to delivering common sense decisions (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)
Esther McVey has said she is committed to delivering common sense decisions (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)

“Let’s practise diversity and inclusion, not waste taxpayers’ money preaching it.”

The second R was for responsible; looking at how public services respond to the needs of the tax payer. The third R was for resassurance; aimed at giving the public the “peace of mind” that the government was spending its money wisely.

Spending on equality, diversity and inclusion has become a recurring bugbear for right-wing Tories, and promises to save public money by slashing such policies are likely to grow louder ahead of the next general election.

In December 2022, Ms McVey was one of 40 Tory MPs to sign a letter endorsing a Conservative Way Forward report that argued cutting diversity and inclusion officers could save the taxpayer more than £500 million and get back a million working days “lost” to diversity training.

The report also claimed the government was supporting “politically motivated” and “anti-British” campaigns at a cost of £7 billion a year, and called for a review of spending on “woke” causes.