Civil service diversity, SNP vs the Treasury, and Budget fever - your Whitehall media roundup

Advance sight of a Cabinet Office review into the civil service's LGBT record, another SNP-Whitehall fracas, and feverish Budget speculation make our regular round-up of Whitehall in the headlines

By matt.foster

16 Mar 2015

The Cabinet Office has said there is “much more to be done” to improve Whitehall diversity, after the Sunday Times published a story this weekend on the experiences of LGBT civil servants at work. The paper obtained a copy of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ report, commissioned by Francis Maude and authored by former Stonewall chief Ben Summerskill. More than 3,000 LGBT civil servants told the review they had “personally experienced discrimination at work” in a 12-month period. One participant said: “It’s still a straight white male boys’ club. If you’re not all three . . . you’ll find it difficult.” The Cabinet Office says the report will be published soon.

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Another day, and another row between the SNP and Whitehall, once again conducted in the pages of the Herald. The SNP’s Kenneth Gibson tells the Scots paper the Treasury has “serious questions to answer about its conduct during the referendum”. It comes after HMT civil servant Robert Mackie - a former  special adviser to Better Together chief Alistair Darling when he was chancellor - was identified as the department’s point of contact on the morning the story on Lloyds' plans to move their HQ out of Scotland in the event of a 'Yes' vote broke. Gibson is pushing for Treasury perm sec Nicholas Macpherson to face a grilling from Holyrood's finance committee over the appearance of the story. But HMT say Mackie only issued a “reactive statement” after the Sun ran its own report on the bank’s post-referendum planning. 

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While we’re talking Treasury, who can blame the papers for having a stab at some Budget speculation, helpfully aided by George Osborne’s appearance on the Andrew Marr show yesterday? Sky News’ Jon Craig has a handy round-up of the (sort of) ’leaks’ so far, with a rise in the income tax threshold to £11,000 and a cut in beer duty among measures touted. The move to allow some five million pensioners to swap their annuities for cash was the only measure actually confirmed by the Chancellor yesterday. He also stuck firmly to the script on that most-talked about departmental budget, that of the Ministry of Defence. "The right time to decide your defence budget is when you have a strategic defence review and you make an assessment of what Britain needs to pursue its foreign policy interests around the globe, to make sure that Britain is a presence in every part of the world,” Osborne said.

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Read the most recent articles written by matt.foster - Top civil servants Robert Devereux & Chris Wormald stick up for spads

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