'Unconscious bias' training for civil servants scrapped

Controversial ‘unconscious bias’ training for civil servants – which assumes everyone is racist – is scrapped after study finds no evidence that it works

  • In blow to ‘woke’ agenda, Government plans to scrap ‘unconscious bias’ training
  • The mandatory courses will end after official study found no evidence it works
  • Department for Work and Pensions spent £112,500 on the training over five years

Ministers have ordered Government departments to scrap controversial ‘unconscious bias’ training after an official study found no evidence it works.

In a significant blow to the ‘woke’ agenda in Whitehall, the Cabinet Office will today announce plans to end mandatory courses in tackling unconscious bias for civil service managers.

The trendy training works on the assumption that most managers are biased against minorities without even realising it – and teaches them strategies to overcome their unconscious prejudices.

In recent years, the training has spread like wildfire through Whitehall. 

In a significant blow to the ‘woke’ agenda in Whitehall, the Government plans to scrap ‘unconscious bias’ training for civil service managers. The Department for Work and Pensions (pictured) has spent £112,500 on the training over five years

Civil service managers have been required to undergo it since 2015 as part of a ‘race awareness programme’.

Figures released to Parliament in October found that seven Government departments had spent £370,000 on unconscious bias training workshops over the last five years.

The Department for Work and Pensions alone shelled out £112,500 on the training, providing courses for 720 people at an average cost of £156 each.

But a study commissioned by the Government Equalities Office earlier this year found no evidence that the training has any effect on tackling prejudice.

The study, conducted by the Government’s Behavioural Insights Team, concluded: ‘There is currently no evidence that this training changes behaviour in the long term or improves workplace equality in terms of representation of women, ethnic minorities or other minority groups.’

It also warned of emerging evidence of unintended negative consequences.

A Whitehall source said the training would now be ‘phased out’ in the civil service. Other public organisations, such as quangos and local authorities will also be urged to dump it.

The insider said: ‘The civil service has a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination in all forms, but we will always be led by the evidence and by what works.

Mansfield Conservative MP Ben Bradley (pictured), who refused to undergo unconscious bias training in Parliament, last night said the move was overdue and welcomed the fact that taxpayers money would no longer be spent on it

‘Expert analysis is clear – there is no evidence that unconscious bias training works and it can even be detrimental. It is untenable to spend taxpayers’ money on this.’ Standalone ‘diversity training’ is also likely to be scrapped after ministers concluded it was often little more than a ‘tick-box exercise’.

However, elements of it will continue to be incorporated in wider management training. The move will be welcomed by Tory MPs who have questioned why ministers have adopted an unproven agenda championed by the Left.

Mansfield Conservative MP Ben Bradley, who refused to undergo unconscious bias training in Parliament, last night said the move was overdue.

He stressed: ‘This unproven training does not work and I welcome the fact that we are no longer going to be wasting taxpayers’ money on it.

‘The whole thing is based on the premise that everyone is unconsciously racist – I just don’t believe that is true and neither do the public.

‘People are fed up with being preached at by a metropolitan elite pushing a divisive agenda that doesn’t even work.’

Earlier this year, the training was made mandatory for MPs. But Parliamentary authorities dropped the plan following a backlash by more than 40 MPs, led by Mr Bradley. 

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