Civil servants working from home have been ordered to get back to their desks and make ‘maximum use’ of Government offices by next week.
Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay confirmed last night that departments must prepare for all staff to return in an attempt to boost the economic recovery after the pandemic.
It comes after updated the Commons on the removal of Plan B measures and announced on Wednesday that working-from-home guidance would end with immediate effect.
In some departments, as few as 3 per cent of staff were at their desks despite the Prime Minister, pictured, urging officials to ‘show a lead,’ a Daily Mail audit found
He later said that ‘across Whitehall we need to show a lead and make sure that we get back to work, everybody gets back to work’.
A Daily Mail audit found that only a tiny minority of civil servants were at their desks yesterday, despite the Government’s pleas.
But last night Mr Barclay, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, underscored the Prime Minister’s call for civil servants to lead the way amid fears that city centres have become ‘ghost towns’ as people continue to work from home.
‘Now we are learning to live with Covid and have lifted Plan B measures, we need to move away from a reliance on video meetings and get back to the benefits of face-to-face, collaborative working,’ said Mr Barclay.
‘I’m grateful to the Civil Service for managing the challenges of the past two years.
At the seven-floor headquarters of the Department for Education, in Westminster, a total of 63 employees were recorded – 3 per cent of the 2,000 members of staff the building accommodated prior to the pandemic
‘It is important that we now see the maximum use of our office space being made from next week as we build a strong recovery after the disruption of the pandemic.’
But demands that Whitehall staff resume ‘normal working patterns’ were immediately branded ‘reckless’ by union leaders.
The FDA, which represents senior civil servants, said the world of work had ‘changed for good’.
In comments that sparked uproar, the union’s general secretary Dave Penman added that it was ‘insulting’ to ‘force’ officials back into the office.
Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay (pictured) confirmed last night that departments must prepare for all staff to return in an attempt to boost the economic recovery after the pandemic
The offices of the Treasury, in Westminster, also house around 880 employees from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.Yesterday a total of 132 people were observed entering the main entrance between 7.30 and 11am
The Government hopes the return to office working will bring economic benefits for town centre businesses, such as sandwich shops, pubs, bars and restaurants, which saw their takings destroyed during lockdowns.
It has emerged that by 2030, Whitehall may only have space for half of its civil servants under plans to slim the Government estate.
The ‘State of the Estate’ report, published by the Government Property Agency last month, also revealed buildings in the Whitehall ‘campus’ currently cost £621million a year to run.
And Mail’s audit shows why he had to act
Thousands of civil servants remained away from their offices yesterday despite Government pleas for the country to ‘return to normality.’
In some departments, as few as 3 per cent of staff were at their desks despite the Prime Minister urging officials to ‘show a lead,’ a Daily Mail audit found.
The Government has now signalled a crackdown, with civil servants ordered to return to their offices from next week.
As Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng took to the airwaves yesterday to urge people to ‘get back to work’, just 142 of a possible 1,800 workers were recorded turning up at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy between 7.30am and 11am yesterday.
At the seven-floor headquarters of the Department for Education, in Westminster, a total of 63 employees were recorded – 3 per cent of the 2,000 members of staff the building accommodated prior to the pandemic.
One local tour guide said the nearby streets had been empty for ‘weeks on end.’