JACOB REES-MOGG is demanding home workers get behind their desks – as taxpayers are hit with a bill of £50million a week to keep government buildings up and running.
The Cabinet minister today issues a return-to-work plea as we reveal civil service office attendance could even be as low as one in five.
MPs are expected to turn up at the Commons in person, as the era of Zoom video call participation is over.
Leader of the Commons Rees-Mogg sagte: “Any ambitious, driven person would want to be in work.
“People in senior positions ought to be aware of those who have been working throughout and should be grateful and recognise that being at work is important.
“That doesn’t mean people aren’t doing anything when they are at home but, certainly, being an MP is done better when you are present to hold the Government to account and stand up for your constituents.
“If you are in a leadership role you ought to lead by example.”
The Sun on Sunday witnessed just 319 people going in through the main entrance of the Treasury building in central London on Thursday this week, aus 1,500 who worked in the building pre-pandemic.
Am meisten gelesen in Politik
There are huge bills associated with each Whitehall department, covering rents, rates and security.
Total operating costs for the Treasury portfolio, including the historic building in Whitehall, stood close to £20million for the year 2019-20, the Foreign Office at £43million and the Cabinet Office at £37million.
A league table that same year for the Central Estate — property owned or occupied by departments and agencies — is topped by the Work and Pensions department at £562million.
A total of £2.7billion, bloated by each department’s huge estates outside Whitehall, was recorded in the same period as part of the Government’s State of the Estate document.
One Cabinet minister revealed this month that they think civil servants who refuse to return to the office should have their pay slashed.
Sie sagten: “People who have been working from home aren’t paying their commuting costs so they have had a de facto pay rise and that is unfair on those who are going into work.
“If people aren’t going into work, they don’t deserve the terms and conditions they get if they are going into work.”
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, sagte: “Paying for the prime location of Whitehall pen-pushers costs a small fortune. Offices should either be properly used or bureaucrats moved out so savings can be made.”
Research by the Centre for Cities think tank revealed only one in five of staff in the country’s 31 largest cities had returned to their workplace following the July 19 Freedom Day and restrictions being eased.
John Dickie, chief executive of business group London First, told The Sun on Sunday: “Businesses across the capital are ready to welcome their employees back to the office in earnest.
“There are huge benefits to doing more in person, from training new staff to collaboration on projects and brain-storming.
“And more people back also means more customers for London’s world-class restaurants and pubs, cultural attractions and hotels.”
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, sagte: “Pubs, bars and hospitality venues have been devastated by the pandemic.
“Fewer people commuting into offices, coupled with the enforced lockdowns and painful trading restrictions of the previous 18 Monate, have destroyed thousands of British businesses.
‘GET BACK TO WORK’
“Office workers are the lifeblood of our high streets, so it is vital the Government does all it can to support the revival of our town and city centres.”
Businesses which rely on trade from London’s civil servants have urged them to get back to the office.
Emad Aly, 54, manager of cafe Blanche Eatery, who serves Whitehall workers, sagte: “Unless they all come back soon we won’t be able to get through it.
“Around 300 people used to come through here at lunchtime. Now it’s empty. We are lucky if we get 12.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We have seen the overall size of the estate cut by 30 per cent since 2010 and the annual running cost cut by £1.5billion.
“By selling sites that are no longer needed, the Government has also raised more than £5billion for the public coffers.”
Whitehall sources said the main entrance to the Treasury is just one way into the building.