26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Minister says empty offices must be sold

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United Kingdom Minister for Government Efficiency, Jacob Rees-Mogg plans to sell off £1.5 billion ($A2.52 billion) worth of Government offices in London as a significant proportion of Public Servants continue to work from home.

Mr Rees-Mogg said he was preparing a strategy for the sales, which would take place over the next three years.

He said staff were working in fewer buildings as part of a new network of Government hubs.

The proposal is part of a Government property strategy aimed at raising £2 billion ($A3.37 billion) in savings from property sales and efficiencies, and also encompasses the use of modern building materials and energy sources.

Mr Rees-Mogg, who orchestrated a long-running and only partly successful campaign to encourage Public Servants to stop working from home after COVID-19 restrictions were scrapped, said he had noted the expensive office space in Central London that was now under-utilised.

“Why should the taxpayer be made to fork out for half-empty buildings?” Mr Rees-Mogg asked.

“Moving Civil Servants to our beautiful counties and towns through the Places for Growth program will benefit everyone, giving Civil Servants a better quality of life and helping economic growth outside the capital.”

He said transferring Public Service jobs out of London would allow greater savings and mean the Government was closer to the communities it served.

In April, it emerged that Mr Rees-Mogg had written to Cabinet Ministers urging them to coerce staff into a rapid return to the office and left notes in empty Whitehall workspaces with the message: ‘I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon.’

Opposition MPs called the move at the time patronising and passive-aggressive.

The Minister has also condemned the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) after staff told bosses at the regulator that two days a week in the office was the most they could cope with.

“The FCA has an important job and any sensible person would recognise that spending only two days a week in the office will harm performance,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.

“We know that people work better when they are together.”

London, 27 August 2022

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