Courses on Check Yo Privilege and witchcraft for civil servants are a waste of time, says JRM

2 August 2022, 08:23 | Updated: 2 August 2022, 12:10

Jacob Rees-Mogg said civil servants had been offered a course on witchcraft
Jacob Rees-Mogg said civil servants had been offered a course on witchcraft. Picture: Getty/LBC

By Will Taylor

Civil servants have been offered courses about witchcraft and on "Check Yo Privilege", a bemused Jacob Rees-Mogg has told LBC.

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Speaking on Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, the Brexit and government efficiency minister branded it "woke nonsense".

He said he wanted to make sure civil servants were instead learning about how to investigate fraud or negotiate commercial contracts better.

Mr Rees-Mogg said he would focus on "improving the learning and development offering within the Civil Service, so that people learn practical skills that deliver better services, rather than one I came across about "Check Yo Privilege", or there was some course that was offered to tell people about witchcraft - they're such rubbish, it's woke rubbish".

Asked to elaborate, he said: "There was a course offered within the Cabinet Office for people that was to "Check Yo Privilege".

"Now, this is something that takes up time of civil servants which I think can be better spent.

"The one on witchcraft I think was offered on the Civil Service intranet, fortunately out of hours so I don't think the cost to the taxpayer was huge.

"But we shouldn't be using Civil Service mechanisms to advertise nonsense.

"What we want people to do is to learn how to be good fraud investigators, which is an area I have some responsibility for, or how to be good commercial negotiators.

"We need good focused learning and development that improves service delivery, not this woke folderol."

Mr Rees-Mogg is leading a bid to cut the Civil Service down to 2016 levels - with potentially 90,000 jobs, or a fifth of the workforce, to be culled.

Read more: Truss' war on civil service: Tory leadership hopeful pledges to cut pay and holiday if she becomes PM

He is backing Liz Truss for Tory leader and No10, who has unveiled plans to save £11 billion and tackle what was branded left-wing "groupthink" within the Civil Service.

Almost £9bn of those savings is said to come from an idea to pay public sector workers outside of London and the South East less, where the cost of living is cheaper.

Other plans include cutting time off and scrapping jobs aimed at increasing diversity in the public sector.

"As prime minister I will run a leaner, more efficient, more focused Whitehall that prioritises the things that really matter to people and is laser-focused on frontline services," Ms Truss pledged.

"There is too much bureaucracy and stale groupthink in Whitehall.

Read more: Civil servants told Britain is 'racist' as white staff urged to not oppose ethnic minorities

"If I make it into Downing Street, I will put an end to that and run a government that focuses relentlessly on delivering for the British public, and offer value to hard-working taxpayers."

But Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said: "If Liz Truss is elected, and if she tries to go ahead with these proposals, she'll face opposition every step of the way."

"Civil servants are not a political tool to be used and abused for one person's ambition; they are the hard-working people who keep the country running, day in day out, and they deserve respect."