Labour's Dawn Butler blasts 'shocking' lack of black Caribbeans on Whitehall graduate scheme
Senior Labour MPs have hit out at the revelation that nobody from a Black Caribbean background was accepted on to the civil service graduate scheme in one year despite record numbers applying.
The civil service Fast Stream takes on hundreds of graduates each year to work their way up the ladder in UK government departments.
But the numbers show that none of the 339 individuals with Caribbean heritage who applied in 2016 made it through, despite more than twice as many people from that background applying as the year before.
The 2016 figures, first reported by HuffPostUK and the most recent available in the annual report, also show that 903 out of 20,536 white applicants succeeded, making them six times more likely to be successful in their application.
The figures pile further pressure on the Government amid the Windrush scandal, which has seen the immigration status of people of Caribbean origin who arrived in Britain before 1973 questioned.
Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities minister Dawn Butler said the latest figures were “profoundly shocking” and further evidence of “institutional racism” in Government.
“In the wake of the Windrush scandal, these figures reveal a staggering lack of progress on tackling racial inequality in our country and in government, and a deep rooted bias in selection procedures,” she said.
“Far from tackling burning injustices, inequality and a failure to address institutional racism lie at the heart of Theresa May’s Government.
“The Prime Minister must explain these figures and the steps she is taking to address this as a matter of urgency.
“Whitehall needs to realise that its recruitment practices are massively flawed and designed purely to reproduce the same kind of thinking time and time again.”
A senior Whitehall insider told the website that “most senior officials see things from the point of view of an affluent, white, Oxbridge, Home Counties type”.
"If you don’t know anybody from that kind of background, you just don’t have the kind of perspective that help you avoid such hideous errors," they added.
Tottenham MP David Lammy, who has been a vocal campaigner on the issue facing the Windrush generation in recent days, added: “Yet again these figures show what Black Britons know to be true – there are still so many rivers to cross when it comes to Black Britons breaking into the establishment”.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said schemes were in place to rectify the issue within schools and universities, with further measures to become “the most inclusive employer in the UK by 2020”.
“This Government believes in a country which works for everyone, which is why we have invested in making the Fast Stream and the Fast Track Apprenticeship Programme more accessible, inclusive and appealing to candidates from all backgrounds over the past two years.”