White civil servants at the Foreign Office (FCO) are being paid on average nearly £10,000 more than their black and minority ethnic counterparts, new data released on Thursday has shown.
The information was contained in a salaries breakdown of FCO civil servants released by Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan in answer to a written question from Tory MP Philip Davies.
The data showed that while white staff are paid £41,404 per annum on average, the figure is nearly £10,000 lower for BME employees, at £31,499.
Following the release of the figures, the Public and Commercial Services Union warned that "the message the FCO is sending round the world is black staff are of less value and the civil service isn't serious about equality".
Duncan added that "staff in the FCO are paid according to standard salary scales that apply equally to all staff", which means that the discrepancy comes from the lack of BME employees in more senior and higher-paid positions.
He also admitted that while ministers "have made progress in improving diversity in the most senior levels of the FCO ... there is still work to do".
The department was already highlighted as the worst offender on Whitehall last July, when another set of written questions showed that BME employees there were paid on average 34% less than white staff.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told BuzzFeed News that "pay disparity of this kind is wrong, deeply unfair, and has no place in the civil service", and that "the makeup of the civil service must reflect the country if it is to benefit from the experiences and perspectives of all of Britain’s communities".
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett added: "The public school white boys at the top of government should be setting a good example for equal pay but instead they are doing exactly the opposite.
"In one of the largest departments the average pay gap between BME workers and their white counterparts is around £10,000 a year. This is an unacceptable pay penalty that no one should have to suffer simply because of the colour of their skin.
“A unrepresentative civil service leaks into the delivery of our public services. Without ensuring BME people are represented in government, they certainly won’t be treated equally by the government."
The FCO was the only department to release figures from January 2017, but as of last July, several Whitehall departments, including Health, and Culture, Media, and Sports, had a pay gap between white and BME employees of over 25%.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "We are committed to tackling the gender pay gap across the Civil Service. Over the last three years through the Talent Action Plan, we have been successful in increasing diversity in our talent schemes, and our approach to maternity leave and returning to work.
"The Civil Service is committed to being a place where everyone can thrive regardless of background, with the aim to becoming the most inclusive employer in the UK."
Marie Le Conte is a politics and media reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Marie Le Conte at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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