The number of Home Office staff receiving diversity training has more than doubled under Suella Braverman’s department, despite her claims that such lessons are a waste of taxpayers’ money and should be banned.
A month before being promoted to interior secretary in Liz Truss’ cabinet, Braverman, then attorney general, sharply criticized the equality sessions in Whitehall, revealing that she had prevented officials from the government’s legal department from attend these classes.
But in the first six-and-a-half months of Braverman’s tenure at the Home Office, the number of department officials receiving training on public sector equality rose to 126 a month, from just over 80 per month under Braverman’s predecessor, Priti Patel.
In response to a parliamentary question from Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry, Home Secretary Chris Philp said 835 staff received the training between early September 2022 and mid-March.
Training was one of the top recommendations made in 2020 by Wendy Williams in her Windrush Lessons Learned review, which outlines steps the Home Office needed to take to avoid a repeat of this scandal.
Williams urged the department to launch a “structured training and development program for all immigration and policy officers and senior civil servants in relation to the Equality and Duty and Obligations Act 2010 Department for Equality in the Public Sector under the Human Rights Act 1998”, to which Patel is fully committed.
The numbers raise questions as to why the department’s commitment to this recommendation accelerated under Braverman’s leadership when in January it dropped three other post-Windrush promises made by Patel, including to create a post of Commissioner for Migrants.
A Westminster source said: ‘It seems Braverman’s pledge to end diversity training means about as much as his vow to stop small craft. It’s yet another reminder that the louder a minister in this government shouts about an issue, the less he actually delivers.
Last August, Braverman backed proposals by then-Tory leadership candidate Truss to scrap diversity and inclusion roles in Whitehall. Braverman said she is “for a diverse workforce… meritocracy [and] inclusion” but there had been a “takeover by HR teams, campaign groups” that had “spread political ideology around identity politics”.
Describing “thousands of hours” of diversity and inclusion training across departments as a “huge cost to the taxpayer,” Braverman said, “It has been divisive, not inclusive. He was condescending, not empowering. It’s based on the assumption that as an ethnic Asian woman from a working class background, I must be a victim, necessarily oppressed.
” It is a mistake. And I think that creates division. It is tearing society apart, breaking down the fabric of our country. And I think it’s a waste of money.