Civil servants outnumber space for them to work in despite criticism of them working from home

The number of civil servants in leading governmental departments vastly outweighs the number of workstations available, despite a leading Conservative MP criticising the number of civil servants who work from home.

In April, it was revealed that the then Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency, Jacob Rees-Mogg, had been completing attendance spot-checks in civil service offices, and leaving notes at the desks of civil servants who were not present.

Responding to a written Parliamentary Question in September, Minister Edward Argar MP stated that there is a total of 5286 workstations in the Cabinet Office, less than half of total of 11,050 civil servants who work in the department. 

In the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), where Rees-Mogg recently served as Business Secretary during the short-lived Premiership of Liz Truss, there are only 2,608 workstations available for 14,080 civil servants.

The most staggering comparison is the Ministry of Justice, where 86,900 civil servants share 1,741 work stations.

In the Home Office, there are 36,540 civil servants, but only 2,014 workstations available at the department’s Marsham Street office.

Despite criticising the number of civil servants working from home, whilst in government Rees-Mogg also announced plans to sell off £1.5bn worth of government buildings in London over the next three years.

This follows a long trend since 2010 of the government selling off civil service office buildings.

In 2010, there were 181 London offices available for civil servants, and by 2018 this number had reduced to 63.

This trend has accelerated since March 2020, when the pandemic began and more civil servants started to work from home.

In HMRC, there were 62,856 workstations available in March 2020. This number decreased to 41,922 in September 2022.

In BEIS, there were 3060 workstations available in March 2020, but only 2608 available in September 2022.

In the Ministry of Justice, there were 1764 workstations in March 2020, which had decreased to 1741 in September 2022.

A civil servant, who wished to remain anonymous said: “It has been an open secret for a long time now that the government is looking to sell off office spaces in London.

“It was incredibly unfair for Rees-Mogg to bash civil servants for working from home when many simply do not have another option.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been requested for comment.

Featured image credit: CVB via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 licence

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