Press release

Plan to end inequality in the public sector

Matt Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office, publishes a new inequality index and rolls out name-blind recruitment across the public sector.


Matt Hancock today outlined plans to end inequality across the public sector following the release of the Bridge Report – commissioned by the Civil Service – examining why only 4.4% of successful applicants to the Fast Stream graduate programme are from the poorest backgrounds. He urged Britain’s major employers to follow the Civil Service’s lead in tackling the issue.

Measures will include:

  • rolling out name-blind recruitment across the public sector to make sure that jobs are awarded on merit alone – the NHS and Civil Service will roll out name-blind recruitment by 2020
  • publishing the pay ratio of the salaries between the median and highest paid employees – this ‘inequality index’ will allow taxpayers to hold the government to account
  • over 200,000 apprenticeships will be created in the public sector by 2020, of which over 30,000 will be in the Civil Service
  • taking graduate recruitment outside of London by establishing regional assessment centres
  • urging Britain’s major employers to take a similar approach to inequality

Matt Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, said:

I want to see a Britain where nobody is defined by the circumstances of their birth. To deliver that, public services need to reflect the country that they serve.

Inequality matters. Countries with higher income inequality have lower levels of social mobility. It’s harder to climb the ladder of opportunity if the rungs are further apart. We’re going to put more rungs in that ladder.

I am not prepared to accept unequal access and unequal progress in Britain’s top institutions. We will tear down these barriers to fairness for all.

The Bridge Report is the first of its kind published by any employer in the country. It sets out recommendations to tackle the lack of social mobility across the public and private sectors.

It finds that although there has been some improvement in access to and progression within the Civil Service for people on the basis of their race, gender or sexuality, there is still a very low number of applicants for the Fast Stream from poor socio-economic backgrounds. Indeed, it finds the Fast Stream has a less diverse intake on this measure than Oxford University.

The government has accepted the recommendations and Matt Hancock has today announced his plan to go further and tackle inequalities across the public sector head on.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, said:

The Civil Service has made great strides in the last few years on diversity, but there is still more to do if it is properly to represent modern Britain.

The Bridge Report provides valuable evidence about the socio-economic background of our graduate recruits.

We have held up a mirror to ourselves and can now see the challenges that we face more clearly and how to overcome them. With the introduction of name-blind applications and an increase in mentoring and apprenticeships, we are absolutely determined to become the best place to succeed whatever your background.

Government Diversity Adviser, Lord Holmes of Richmond MBE, said:

The Bridge Group report offers potential nuggets of gold, not just for the Civil Service but for the UK.

Social mobility should be on all of our minds if we are to be the citizens, the communities, the country we are capable of. The problem is that talent is everywhere but opportunity is not.

The Civil Service is not unusual in facing this but the Fast Stream offers a unique possibility to make a real impact on social mobility in the UK. Bridge’s suggestions could form a large part of this transformation.

Perhaps the most pertinent point for all of us being, we should never stop looking for those insights, those innovations, those applications of data to enable the chance, the opportunity, the potential to be realised.

Published 2 February 2016