Civil Service workforce

Published

Last updated 3 March 2021 - see all updates

This page corrects mistakes in a previous version. See details.

1. Main facts and figures

  • there were around 445,480 UK civil servants working in the UK and overseas at the end of March 2019
  • 87.3% of civil servants were from the White ethnic group (compared with 85.6% of the working age population in the 2011 Census)
  • 6.6% of civil servants were Asian, 3.4% were Black, 1.8% had Mixed ethnicity, 0.6% were from the Other ethnic group, and 0.3% were from the Chinese ethnic group
  • out of all regions in the UK, London had the highest percentage of staff from each of the ethnic minority groups
  • male civil servants were more likely to be White (88.3%) than female civil servants (86.5%)
  • excluding the 16 to 19 and 65+ groups, the younger staff were, the more likely they were to be from ethnic minorities (excluding White minorities)

2. Things you need to know

What the data measures

The data shows the number and percentage of civil servants from different ethnic groups.

The data includes everyone with a Civil Service employment contract. Employees can be permanent, on a fixed-term contract or employed on a casual basis.

The data is based on a ‘snapshot’ taken on 31 March each year. It shows the total number of civil servants regardless of whether they worked full time or part time.

Total staff numbers are rounded to the nearest 10. This means some figures may not add up to the totals shown.

Not included in the data

The data does not include people working for:

  • the NHS
  • non-departmental public bodies
  • the Civil Service abroad
  • the Northern Ireland Civil Service
  • central government in security posts

It also does not include people who were:

  • not on the payroll, such as contractors
  • not paid during the period covered, such as staff taking unpaid leave

Percentages based on fewer than 5 people are not shown. This is to protect people’s confidentiality, and because the numbers are too small to make reliable generalisations.

The ethnic groups used in the data

Figures are shown for the following 6 ethnic groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Chinese
  • Mixed
  • White
  • Other

This is because the number of people surveyed was too small to make any reliable conclusions about any of the 18 ethnic groups used in the 2011 Census.

The ethnicity was not known for 22% of civil servants in 2019. Percentages are based on staff whose ethnicity was known.

Methodology

Read the detailed methodology document for the data on this page.

Comparisons with the working age population use 2011 Census data for England and Wales. They are not meant to be exact comparisons. This is because the data for civil servants covers a different geographic area (UK and abroad).

3. By ethnicity

Percentage and number of civil servants by ethnicity
Ethnicity % Headcount
Asian 6.6 23,190
Black 3.4 11,990
Chinese 0.3 1,080
Mixed 1.8 6,140
White 87.3 304,850
Other 0.6 1,980
Unknown N/A* 96,260

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Civil Service workforce By ethnicity Summary

The data shows that, where civil servants’ ethnicity was known:

  • 87.3% were from the White ethnic group
  • 6.6% of staff were Asian, 3.4% were Black, 1.8% had Mixed ethnicity, 0.6% were from the Other ethnic group, and 0.3% were from the Chinese ethnic group

4. By ethnicity over time

Percentage and number of civil servants by ethnicity over time
2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Ethnicity 2015 % 2015 Headcount 2016 % 2016 Headcount 2017 % 2017 Headcount 2018 % 2018 Headcount 2019 % 2019 Headcount
Asian 5.4 18,560 5.8 18,690 6.2 19,780 6.4 20,470 6.6 23,190
Black 3.0 10,210 3.1 9,950 3.2 10,230 3.2 10,350 3.4 11,990
Chinese 0.3 890 0.3 880 0.3 910 0.3 960 0.3 1,080
Mixed 1.3 4,410 1.4 4,460 1.5 4,740 1.5 4,950 1.8 6,140
White 89.4 305,550 88.8 284,140 88.4 283,740 88.0 283,300 87.3 304,850
Other 0.6 2,040 0.5 1,710 0.5 1,750 0.5 1,740 0.6 1,980
Unknown N/A* 97,670 N/A* 98,510 N/A* 98,250 N/A* 108,310 N/A* 96,260

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Civil Service workforce By ethnicity over time Summary

The data shows that, where ethnicity was known:

  • between 2015 and 2019, there was an increase in the number and percentage of civil servants from the Asian, Black and Mixed ethnic groups
  • there was no change in the percentage of civil servants from the Chinese and Other ethnic groups
  • the total percentage of civil servants from ethnic minorities (excluding White minorities) went up from 10.6% to 12.7%
  • the Asian ethnic group saw the biggest increase, from 5.4% to 6.6% of civil servants (an increase of around 4,630 staff)
  • between 2015 and 2019, the percentage of civil servants from the White ethnic group went down from 89.4% to 87.3% (a decrease of around 700 staff)

5. By ethnicity and grade

Percentage and number of civil servants by ethnicity and grade
Asian Black Chinese Mixed White Other
Grade Asian % Asian Headcount Black % Black Headcount Chinese % Chinese Headcount Mixed % Mixed Headcount White % White Headcount Other % Other Headcount
Administrative officers and assistants 7.0 7,560 3.4 3,700 0.3 290 1.5 1,590 87.4 94,840 0.5 540
Executive officer 7.8 7,280 4.2 3,910 0.3 250 1.6 1,520 85.5 79,440 0.6 530
Senior and higher executive officer 6.1 5,580 3.1 2,860 0.4 350 1.9 1,740 87.9 80,310 0.6 550
Grades 6 & 7 4.9 2,010 2.0 830 0.4 160 2.3 920 89.7 36,490 0.7 290
Senior Civil Service Level 4.2 210 1.3 70 0.3 20 1.7 90 91.9 4,550 0.5 20
Unknown N/A* 540 N/A* 620 N/A* 20 N/A* 290 N/A* 9,230 N/A* 50

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and grade’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and grade’ (CSV)

Summary of Civil Service workforce By ethnicity and grade Summary

The data shows that, where ethnicity was known:

  • Asian staff made up 4.2% of civil servants at 'SCS Level' (the highest grade) and 7.0% of administrative officers and assistants (the most junior grade)
  • Black staff made up 1.3% of civil servants at SCS Level and 3.4% of administrative officers and assistants
  • staff with Mixed ethnicity made up 1.7% of civil servants at SCS Level and 1.5% of administrative officers and assistants
  • White staff made up 91.9% of staff at SCS Level, and 87.4% of administrative officers and assistants
  • out of all grades, executive officers (the second most junior grade) had the highest percentage of Asian (7.8%) and Black (4.2%) staff

6. By ethnicity and area

Percentage and number of civil servants by ethnicity and area
Asian Black Chinese Mixed White Other
Region Asian % Asian Headcount Black % Black Headcount Chinese % Chinese Headcount Mixed % Mixed Headcount White % White Headcount Other % Other Headcount
All 6.6 23,190 3.4 11,990 0.3 1,080 1.8 6,140 87.3 304,850 0.6 1,980
North East 1.2 270 0.4 90 0.2 40 0.7 160 97.4 22,740 0.2 40
North West 4.4 1,910 1.2 510 0.3 140 1.3 550 92.6 40,630 0.3 150
Yorkshire and The Humber 6.6 1,820 1.4 390 0.2 50 1.2 340 90.2 24,690 0.3 90
East Midlands 8.9 1,390 2.4 380 0.1 20 1.6 250 86.6 13,560 0.3 50
West Midlands 14.6 3,240 4.2 930 0.2 40 1.7 390 78.8 17,550 0.5 110
East 4.9 830 2.4 400 0.3 40 1.5 250 90.4 15,460 0.6 110
London 16.3 11,220 11.6 7,970 0.7 490 3.7 2,530 66.4 45,700 1.3 890
South East 3.4 1,040 1.8 560 0.3 90 1.6 490 92.4 28,420 0.5 160
South West 1.7 540 1.2 380 0.1 50 1.3 410 95.3 30,550 0.4 140
Wales 1.1 310 0.5 150 0.2 50 1.5 420 96.3 27,010 0.3 90
Scotland 1.2 400 0.5 150 0.1 40 0.6 200 97.2 31,790 0.4 120
Northern Ireland 0.2 10 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 0.6 20 98.9 3,040 0.2 10
Unknown N/A* 60 N/A* 10 N/A* not collected N/A* 20 N/A* 840 N/A* withheld to protect confidentiality

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and area’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and area’ (CSV)

Summary of Civil Service workforce By ethnicity and area Summary

  • out of all regions, London had the highest percentage of civil servants from the Asian (16.3%), Black (11.6%), Mixed (3.7%), Chinese (0.7%) and Other ethnic groups (1.3%)
  • by comparison, 19.3% of working age people in London described themselves as Asian, 12.6% Black, 3.9% Mixed, 1.8% Chinese and 3.6% from the Other ethnic group in the 2011 Census
  • in the North East, 2.6% of civil servants were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other ethnic groups combined (the lowest percentage out of all regions), compared with 4.9% of the North East working age population
  • 2.8% of civil servants in Scotland and 3.7% in Wales were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other ethnic groups combined, compared with 4.3% of the Scottish and 4.7% of the Welsh working age populations
  • the areas with the highest percentage of Asian civil servants were London (16.3%), the West Midlands (14.6%) and the East Midlands (8.9%)
  • the areas with the highest percentage of Black civil servants were London (11.6%) and the West Midlands (4.2%)

7. By ethnicity and gender

Percentage and number of civil servants by ethnicity and gender
Male Female
Ethnicity Male % Male Headcount Female % Female Headcount
Asian 6.4 9,940 6.8 13,250
Black 2.8 4,320 4.0 7,660
Chinese 0.3 460 0.3 620
Mixed 1.7 2,660 1.8 3,490
White 88.3 137,530 86.5 167,320
Other 0.6 900 0.6 1,080
Unknown N/A* 49,510 N/A* 46,740

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and gender’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and gender’ (CSV)

Summary of Civil Service workforce By ethnicity and gender Summary

The data shows that, where ethnicity was known:

  • 88.3% of men and 86.5% of women working in the Civil Service were White (a difference of 1.8 percentage points)
  • 4.0% of women and 2.8% of men working in the Civil Service were Black (a difference of 1.2 percentage points)

8. By ethnicity and age group

Percentage and number of civil servants by ethnicity and age group
Asian Black Chinese Mixed White Other Unknown
Ethnicity Asian % Asian Headcount Black % Black Headcount Chinese % Chinese Headcount Mixed % Mixed Headcount White % White Headcount Other % Other Headcount Unknown % Unknown Headcount
Aged 16-19 6.9 60 1.2 10 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 3.0 30 88.5 790 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality N/A* 690
Aged 20-29 9.8 4,040 3.2 1,290 0.5 190 3.3 1,350 82.6 33,840 0.7 270 N/A* 21,570
Aged 30-39 8.8 6,460 3.1 2,260 0.4 300 2.4 1,750 84.6 61,900 0.6 480 N/A* 22,110
Aged 40-49 7.3 6,360 3.4 2,950 0.3 290 1.6 1,410 86.8 75,560 0.6 490 N/A* 20,000
Aged 50-59 4.1 4,610 4.0 4,560 0.2 220 1.1 1,300 90.1 102,130 0.5 560 N/A* 24,440
Aged 60-64 4.3 1,160 2.7 730 0.2 60 0.9 250 91.3 24,440 0.5 140 N/A* 5,520
Aged 65 & Over 7.1 490 2.6 180 0.3 20 0.9 60 88.5 6,180 0.7 50 N/A* 1,620

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and age group’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and age group’ (CSV)

Summary of Civil Service workforce By ethnicity and age group Summary

The data shows that, where ethnicity was known:

  • 91.3% of civil servants aged 60 to 64 years were White (the highest percentage of White staff in any age group)
  • the percentage of civil servants who were White got smaller with each younger age, down to 82.6% of 20 to 29 year olds (the lowest percentage)
  • the exception was among 16 to 19 year olds, where 88.5% of civil servants were White
  • the age group with the highest percentage of Asian staff was 20 to 29 year olds (9.8%)
  • the age group with the highest percentage of Black staff was 50 to 59 year olds (4.0%)

9. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Cabinet Office

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The Annual Civil Service Employment Survey (ACSES) measures the number of civil servants and diversity across the workforce.

10. Download the data