Civil service grows again as diversity indicators hit record highs

Latest civil service statistics see big increase in proportion of officials with a declared disability, alongside upticks in other diversity metrics
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By Tevye Markson

02 Aug 2023

The civil service has grown for a seventh year running and is getting more diverse, newly-released civil service statistics show.

There were 487,665 (full-time equivalent) officials as of 31 March, according to annual statistics released today by the Cabinet Office, up from 478,090 the year before.

The statistics also reveal this rise came amid the highest departures from the civil service since 2011-12. Some 46,080 people left the civil service in 2022-23, while 56,760 people joined. 

Within this growing workforce, the statistics also show several signs of growth in diversity, including a big rise in officials with a declared disability and women taking up a greater proportion of senior roles.

Disability declarations on the rise

Some 15.8% of civil servants now having a declared disability, a record high, and an increase from the 14.0% who stated they have a disability in 2022. Just 8.6% of officials had a declared disability 10 years ago. 

Declarations have increased in each year in the last decade but the 1.8 percentage-point increase is the largest in that period.

The proportion of civil servants with a declared disability has increased across all grades compared to 2022, with the largest percentage-point increase at EO level – now 17.8%, up from 15.7% last year.

Officials with declared disabilities are still least represented at senior levels, but have risen from 8.8% last year to 10.0%  this year as a proportion of the SCS. There has also been an increase - from 10.% to 11.6%  - at Grade 6/7.

The percentage of civil servants declaring themselves as disabled remains below that of the economically active working age population, however, which is 16.8%.

Ethnic minority representation and LGBO declarations continue to rise 

The proportion of civil servants from ethnic minority backgrounds is also at a record high and has increased every year in the last decade. 

Of those with a known ethnicity, the percentage who are from an ethnic minority background has risen to 15.4%,  from 15.0% in 2022. Ten years ago, it was 9.6%.

The proportion of civil servants from an ethnic minority background has increased across all grades except executive officer level where it remains unchanged at 17.8%.

The largest percentage-point increase has been at administrative assistant/administrative officer level, where it is up to 14.9% in 2023 from 13.9% in 2022.

Civil servants from an ethnic minority background are still much less represented at senior grades than in junior grades, with those at senior civil service level having the lowest representation rate at 10.5%, although this is up from 10.3% in 2022 and 4.7% in 2013.

As with disability, the civil service still has a lower proportion of workers from an ethnic minority background than the working age population in the UK, which is 15.7%.

There are also more civil servants identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or other (LGBO).

Of those with a known sexual orientation, 6.4% of officials identify as LGBO. This has increased every year since data on sexual orientation has been captured in these statistics, and is up from 6.1% in 2022 and 3.7% in 2015.

LGBO representation has increased at all grades over the last year, except G6/7 level. The grade with the highest percentage of LGBO civil servants is still SCS level (7.1%), which is up from 6.7% in 2022.

Reporting rates for sexual orientation have also continued to increase, rising from 38.1% in 2015 (when it was first collected), to 71.8% in 2023.

Women close gender gap at senior levels

There are also been progress in closing the gender gap at senior levels, where men historically held a high proportion of senior roles despite there being more women in the population and in the overall civil service.

Women now make up 54.6% of the civil service in 2023, a  0.1 percentage point uptick on 2022.

But the increase in representation at Grade 6/7 and in the SCS is more significant.

At SCS level, 47.9% of roles are now held by women, compared to 47.2% a year ago. At G6/G7 level, 49.5% of officials are women, up from 48.9% in 2022.

The gender pay gap has also reduced. The median and mean gender pay gap for the civil service were 9.6% and 8.1% in 2023, down from 11.3% and 8.5% in 2022 respectively.

Less London-centric

The civil sevice has also become more regionally diverse, with the proportion of officials based in London dropping from 20.7% to 20.1% and the total number also dropping.

There are 99,790 (FTE) London-based officials in 2023 compared to 100,950 in 2022. This is the first time the London headcount has dropped in six years.

It follows increases in civil servants based in London of 3% in 2022 and 11.6% in 2021.

The proportion of officials based in each region increased in all areas except for London, the east of England and overseas. The largest increase was in north west England, where 67,110 FTE roles are now based, up from 64,305 in 2022.

The regions with the largest number of civil servants are London (103,735), the north west of England (67,110), and Scotland (53,495).

Excluding Northern Ireland and Overseas, the east of England has the fewest civil servants, with 22,390.

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