Whitehall will have only half the office space needed for future civil servants. Ministers are urging staff to follow their lead after end of work-from-home guidance.
Under a strategy to rationalise the government estate in London, there will only be capacity for 50 per cent of staff to be at their desks from 2030.
Tories called the plans ‘bonkers’. However, the Cabinet Office maintained that Whitehall staff would not be away working at home and suggested some workers would visit other offices.
The shift is highlighted in an official report that also reveals the Whitehall ‘campus’ and other buildings in the capital are costing £621million a year to run.
They currently house around 68,000 full-time equivalent staff, giving a cost per head of £9,132.
Boris Johnson urged civil servants after the removal of Covid home-guided work to follow his lead and to return to “normal” patterns.
Kwasi Kwarteng (Business Secretary) admitted today that he didn’t know the exact proportion in his department. It could have been less than half.
The Government Property Agency published the State of the Estate Report last month. It highlights the desire to reduce costs and move people out of London.
However, it is also clear that there won’t be enough space on the Whitehall Campus – which consists of the headquarters for departments and agencies — to accommodate all of those who work there.
Boris Johnson encouraged civil servants following the removal of Covid guidance from at-home work, to be a role model and return to normal patterns.
A strategy for rationalising the London government estate will limit staff’s ability to work from their offices by 2030.
The Government Property Agency published the State of the Estate Report last month. It highlights the need to relocate staff from London and reduce operating costs. It also revealed that only half the staff who live at the Whitehall Campus will be able to use the space available.
Whitehall Campus Strategy is aiming to create a campus that has a 50% reduced footprint than a baseline 2019. It will consist of 20 core buildings, housing approximately 40,000 FTEs and a 50% Attendance Rate. The report stated that the campus would have no more than 22,000 people at any given time by 2030.
The report stated that the strategy to manage government properties up until 2030 would be rewritten and updated.
Due to holidays and rotas, some staff may be away from the office at any one time.
According to a Government source, the percentage of people working remotely would be much lower than 50%. There is also a call for more London time even though they may still live in London.
They claimed that Whitehall’s ‘attendance rate’ before the pandemic had been 65-70%. It is unclear what proportion of those working remotely were then.
Officials say that the government can save big by rationalizing the estate and giving staff greater flexibility.
MailOnline spoke to senior Tory Iain Duncan Smith, who said: “Another crazy idea brought to your attention by a bunch civil servants on the Peletons.
“It’s all absurd. You need civil servants at your offices, because sometimes things are happening politics in politics fast and sharply than you might have anticipated.
The civil service is essential for the success of politics. It isn’t like managing a business. There are many factors that may be going on, and they can change.
‘The idea you have 50 per cent of the workforce in their homes is ridiculous when loads of the people who service them – delivering food, getting their books sold to them, working in warehouses – they can’t work from home.’
LBC Radio interviewed Mr Kwarteng about the amount of employees still working at home.
When asked what percentage of the Business Department were returning, Mr Kwarteng first replied: “Well, we are trying to increase it and I hope that in the next few weeks we will have people back in the office largely.”
Nick Ferrari raised the issue that Mr Kwarteng had not provided a figure.
The figure was reportedly ‘definitely’ higher than the 25% at the lockdown’s nadir, but he couldn’t give an exact estimate.
It’s approximately 50 percent, according to me, however, it is expected that this number will rise over the following days and week.
According to reports, the permanent secretary of the Department for Business emailed all the officials encouraging them to return to his office yesterday.
Within a fortnight, staff should be available at least three times a week.
The figures show that workers have been travelling more to their offices since WFH was dropped by the Prime Minister.
TfL data shows that yesterday, Tube travels increased 10% to 2.1 million, and bus trips rose by 4% in the last seven days to 4.49million.
Kwasi Kwarteng was not able to answer questions on LBC Today about how many staff are still working remotely.
This graph shows how large the floors of all the different government offices across the country in terms of square metres.
However, civil service unions are slamming the pm’s attempts to bring Britain back into work after the Omicron wave has faded.
Johnson made it clear that civil servants should follow Johnson’s lead by going back to work. Yesterday, he ordered ministers in the Cabinet to immediately ensure Whitehall employees resume their ‘normal working habits’.
Union bosses, however, branded the demands of the PM ‘insulting’. They claimed that the attempt to bring workers back into the office was reckless.
Public and Commercial Services, which represents public servants, warns against any ‘headlong rush back’ to work. Angrily, the FDA union reacted by stating that the world of work has ‘changed for the better’.
Tory MPs and business leaders have demanded that Mr Johnson face down the unions – saying failure to act would be disastrous for the economy.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former leader of the Conservative Party called union bosses selfish for supporting continued home work as Covid threat wanes.
‘When they eventually go back to their office there won’t be anywhere to get a sandwich from or sit down in a pub – they’ll all close,’ he warned.