Headlines: October 9th, 2007

The Public Appointments Commissioner says more work still needs to be done to widen the pool of applicants for posts on public bodies. Janet Gaymer said there had been encouraging progress in some areas but in her annual report she added that there were still statistics which disappointed her.

Appointments of people from ethnic minority backgrounds and of those with a declared disability had increased, but Mrs. Gaymer said, “I am disappointed that there has been a further fall in the number of women appointed to the boards of public bodies. I am also very conscious that the majority of those appointed to the boards of our public bodies are aged over 46 and above.”

Reviewing the last year she said it was clear more needed to be done to ensure that the boards which governed much of daily life better reflected the population they served. On the issue of the age of appointees she said that a working party set up last year would report soon. “The results of the work carried out by that group are due to be made public in November and will then form a key plan of a new diversity strategy which I shall be putting in place. I want to look at how people are made aware of appointments and the barriers that stop them applying for and being appointed to these posts,” she said.

Figures in the report show that the number of appointees and reappointees who declared a disability had increased from 4.4 per cent to 6.1 per cent, the fourth successive annual rise. Appointments of ethnic minority candidates rose from 8.6 per cent to 9.2 per cent but the proportion of women fell from 36.6 per cent in 2005-06 to 36.2 per cent last year.