Matt Hancock deviated wildly from the message today by admitting that he had “absolutely no idea” how many of his employees still work from home and was more interested in “people’s work efficiency”.
The Health Secretary’s comments came amid a massive push by government and Boris Johnson business leaders to breathe life into the high streets of the UK by filling workplaces across the country.
He points out that health ministry officials came after CBI chief Dame Carolyn Fairbairn warned that malls risked being permanent “ghost towns”.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this morning revealed that major UK streets are bouncing at a slower pace than malls and retail parks.
They underlined how the reluctance of staff to return to the workplace harms companies.
In an interview on Times Radio, Mr Hancock was asked if he knew what percentage of Department of Health staff work from home.
“I have absolutely no idea,” he replied.
“What matters to me is how efficiently people work, and obviously people should come back to the office if that’s what they need to do their jobs.
In an interview on Times Radio, Mr Hancock was asked if he knew what percentage of Department of Health staff work from home. ‘I have absolutely no idea,’ he replied.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed this morning that major UK streets are bouncing at a slower pace than malls and retail parks.
“And employers also need to make sure offices are secured by Covid, as we obviously did at the Department of Health, as you fully expect us to do.
“But what matters to me is that people play and therefore the people I work with, some of them work from home, some come sometimes, some are full time, and what matters to me, it’s that they deliver and frankly they delivered at an incredible rate.
“I mean, you know, sometimes there’s this cartoon that people who work in the public service work 9 to 5 days, that’s just not true in my experience.
“And people are working incredibly hard because, at the end of the day, it’s mission-driven work and, in the midst of a pandemic, the whole department is committed to this mission. “
This Center for Cities graph shows the average attendance in city centers for the last full week of August, compared to pre-foreclosure levels. The darker the green, the closer downtown is to pre-lock levels
UK workers most reluctant to return to office amid fears of second wave of coronavirus, new study found
Writing in the Mail, Dame Carolyn, the CEO of the CBI says that the return of staff to offices and workplaces is as important as the return of students to school.
“UK offices are essential engines of our economy. They support thousands of local businesses, from dry cleaners to sandwiches. They help train and develop young people. And they promote better work and better productivity for many types of businesses, ”she said.
“The costs of closing offices are becoming clearer by the day. Some of our busiest downtowns look like ghost towns, lacking the usual hustle and bustle of passing trade. It comes at a high price for local businesses, jobs and communities.
Dame Carolyn’s intervention will pressure the Prime Minister to match his rhetoric about the need to go back to school with words – and similar actions – in the workplace.
But the health secretary also said getting staff back to work is the business of employers.
Mr Hancock said: “I think it needs to be done at all levels. If you think of the nation as a whole, it has to be done in a Covid-secured manner.
“But employers are doing this and the rules are clear about it. “
He added: “I see the CBI yesterday issued a statement saying people should go back to the office, and I have discussed with the head of the CBI what we can do more and more to say that the rules are that this issue rests with employers as long as their workplace is secured by Covid.
“And of course, we’ll be working with the CBI on the things they want to see to help get there. “