MPs blast equality body for wasting public cash

A powerful equality quango has been slammed by MPs for squandering taxpayers’ money, including wasting £1 million making staff redundant and then rehiring them.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was formed by the Government in 2006 at a cost of almost £40m.

But a committee of MPs has said the Commission’s formation was beset with “serious errors” and accused the EHRC of wasting huge sums of money, some of which it “cannot adequately explain”.

Edward Leigh is Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the group which investigated the EHRC.

He said: “This is not the way this committee expects public bodies to be run”.

Following the amalgamation of three anti-discrimination bodies in 2006, staff were given severance pay, but some were then rehired by the new EHRC.

The PAC reiterated concerns raised last year by the National Audit Office that this process incurred massive extra costs.

Seven officials were paid £629,276 in severance pay and then rehired at a cost of over £300,000 on short-term contracts.

The PAC said: “The Commission failed to follow the correct process and did not obtain approval from the Treasury before entering into these arrangements.”

The Committee also raised concerns over the payments to then interim Director General Neil Kinghan of £1,000 a day between May 2009 and January this year.

A spokesman for the EHRC said Mr Kinghan was now on a pro rata salary of £150,000.

The EHRC reports to the Government Equalities Office, where Harriet Harman is chief Government Minister.

Last week the EHRC suggested that schools which made girls wear skirts could be discriminating against pupils who had gender dysphoria and believed themselves to be members of the opposite sex.

That story prompted Daily Mail columnist Leo McKinstry to say the quango was reviving the ‘loony Left’ policies of the 1980s.

Last year the EHRC organised its second annual ‘equality camp’, a gathering where 14 and 15-year olds did modules on “diversity, equality and rights”.

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