Public Administration CommitteeSupplementary written evidence submitted by Cabinet Office (PE 14)

At the oral evidence session on 28 November I said that I would respond in writing to several queries.

First, a question (Q209) was asked about the number of black applicants accepted onto the Civil Service Fast Stream. An article appeared in the Sunday Times of 19 August, misleadingly entitled “Civil service rejects black applicants”. It referred to published statistics of the 2010 intake into the Civil Service’s Fast Stream Development Programme.

In fact, four of the 2010 Fast Stream intake declared that they were black, but this is not apparent from the statistics because of the established convention that such numbers are suppressed in order to avoid the risk of identifying individuals. In the following year, seven black candidates were successful.

To put the figures quoted by the Sunday Times into perspective, in 2010 there were in excess of 21,000 applications to the Fast Stream. 465 were successful. The selection process is based solely on merit, and is designed to prevent possible bias for or against any particular groups. Of the 465 successful candidates, 57, or 12.3%, declared that they were from an ethnic minority.

The intake of black graduates into the Fast Stream has long been low, and last year we intensified efforts to attract black students in particular. We have for some years run a Summer Diversity Internship Programme which offers work placements of up to eight weeks in the Civil Service to students from ethnic minority backgrounds. This programme also offers the opportunity to compete for a place in a special coaching programme which helps participants prepare for the Fast Stream selection process.

There has been a steady upward trend in the proportion of declared BME recruits in each year’s intake from 3.4% in 1998 to 13% in 2011.

Second, questions were asked about making public policy-making accessible to persons with learning disabilities (QQ157–8).

The Government’s ambition is to enable all disabled people to fulfil their potential and to play a full role in society. Disabled people, including those with learning disabilities, should be involved in how policies are developed and how services are designed and delivered. For example, in developing Fulfilling Potential, our approach to our new disability strategy, we have taken care to listen to the ideas from all disabled people, including those who find it harder to have their voices heard. We funded over a hundred events hosted by organisations of disabled people, including organisations of and representing people with learning disabilities like Mencap and People First. This included funding things like graphic facilitation to help people with learning disabilities get actively involved and influence our thinking.

Third, questions were asked about the (QQ235–41) about the selection process underlying the Policy Contestability Match Fund.

As we set out in the Civil Service Reform Plan, the Policy Contestability Match Fund enables Ministers to commission policy advice from outside the Civil Service. The Contestable Policy Fund opens up policy making to potential suppliers from a range of fields—including think tanks and academia. By bringing in expertise on specific subject matters when it does not already exist in-house, it is one way of incentivising the development of high-quality, creative policy, as part of the wider open policy making agenda.

The Institute for Public Policy Research was recently awarded the contract to review Civil Service structures overseas through a procurement process conducted by the Government Procurement Service and overseen by me as the responsible Minister. The tender documentation can be found on Contracts Finder, the website which makes available details of all government procurements above £10,000 as part of our transparency commitment.

January 2013

Prepared 31st May 2013