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'On their Pelotons!' Rachel Johnson slams civil servants and backs Rees-Mogg office return

News'On their Pelotons!' Rachel Johnson slams civil servants and backs Rees-Mogg office return

Rachel Johnson said she backed plans from Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg to pressure civil servants into returning to work from Westminster now Covid restrictions have been lifted. Mr Rees-Mogg has faced backlash after photos emerged over the weekend of a note he left in one of Whitehall’s offices voicing his hope of meeting staff after seemingly finding no one on location. Ms Johnson said she was supportive of a “hybrid” working approach but reiterated the importance of resuming normal office routines.

The LBC presenter said: “I’m quite happy to have a bit of hybrid working and a bit of flex in everybody’s schedule but I think I essentially agree with Jacob Rees-Mogg.

“If you don’t go back to the office in person you are basically signalling to your bosses that they can reassign your position.

“I think maybe that is what is needed.

“I’m in the middle of an administrative, bureaucratic nightmare to do with probate and the delay for probate because people are working from home I think is up to a year.”

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She also voiced her frustration at the severe delays reported in processing documents at the DVLA.

Ms Johnson added: “It’s holding up people’s lives because people are sitting at home working from home.

“They’re on their pelotons, they’re not on their bikes trying to find jobs, they’ve got jobs, but they’re on their pelotons, they’re watching Netflix and they’re home working.

“I know there will be people that say it’s much easier to combine childcare or caring for elderly parent with home working and I take that point.

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Civil servants have been suggesting they would be ready to return to the office but have been constrained by lack of space available.

Sam Freedman from the Institute for Government wrote on Twitter: “Another civil servant writes to tell me many in his department are keen to spend more time in the office but due to cost-cutting there are only 0.3 desks per person.

“My DMs are now filled with dozens of aggrieved civil servants saying they’ve been told they can only do two days a week in the office or their building was just sold etc… (can’t remember a time when Whitehall morale was lower).”

FT’s Associate Editor Stephen Bush added: “Yeah, there hasn’t been enough desks in Whitehall for everyone to come in every day since 2013! It’s been a flexible workplace for a long time.”

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