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Hundreds of civil servants are on full-time ‘home-working contracts’ and do not go into Whitehall at all, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The number who can permanently work five days a week from home has more than doubled this year, Freedom of Information requests have revealed.

In addition, staff at Government-funded public bodies have spent nearly 10,000 days working ‘from the beach’ since 2020 after an increase in approvals to log in from abroad. The move to contractual working from home surged in 2023, with some Government departments now letting hundreds of workers avoid the office all week – on top of those who increasingly work part-time from home already.

The Department for Business and Trade has started handing out specific

‘home-working contracts’ for the first time in the past year, and now has 207 staff WFH full-time. During the previous three years it had none.

Five-day work from home deals for pampered mandarins as civil servants make mockery of calls to return to the office: Taxpayer-funded quango staff get 10,000 days WFB (Working From the Beach)

A HIVE OF INACTIVITY: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s photo of an empty Government office in April 2022

Last year, Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, then the Minister in charge of Civil Service reform, left notes in his Cabinet Office department saying: 'Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon'

Last year, Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, then the Minister in charge of Civil Service reform, left notes in his Cabinet Office department saying: ‘Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon’

In total, the number of contractual home- workers across eight Whitehall departments has leapt from 334 last year to 815 – making a mockery of Ministers’ attempts to get officials back at their desks.

Former Levelling-Up Minister Andrew Percy said last night: ‘This is another privilege given to public-sector workers which is not given to plumbers, power-station workers, and steel workers who have no choice but to go to work. I am not convinced it is a good use of taxpayers’ money.’

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, ex-leader of the Conservative Party, said: ‘This obsession with working from home – it’s fine once in a while, but it’s not fine if it’s every day because the quality of the work cannot be the same. It will hit productivity.

‘It looks like the Civil Service now seems to be costing a lot of money – but are they giving good value?’

This month, Cabinet Office Minister John Glen urged officials to return to the office, insisting: ‘People need to collaborate.’

However, Whitehall penpushers have spent £590,000 of taxpayers’ money on management consultants to ask staff how they feel about the office and working from home.

The Department for Work and Pensions has 304 officials on specific ‘home-working contracts’ allowing them to WFH five days a week – up from just 20 in 2020. The Department of Health and Social Care has 95 such contractual home workers, up from nine in 2020 and fewer than five in 2022.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: ‘These contracts are incredibly rare, only agreed in exceptional circumstances and remain below one per cent of the workforce.

‘We have set out new guidance stating that civil servants across all departments and regions are expected to be in the office a minimum of 60 per cent of the time.’

Last year, Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, then the Minister in charge of Civil Service reform, left notes in his Cabinet Office department saying: ‘Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon.’ He also shared a picture of an empty government office at 11am on a working day.

Meanwhile, separate research on quangos – taxpayer-funded public bodies – shows more than 1,000 staff requests to work remotely from overseas over the past three years were granted. Only 395 were for genuine business purposes.

'This obsession with working from home ¿ it's fine once in a while, but it's not fine if it's every day because the quality of the work cannot be the same. It will hit productivity,' said ex-leader of the Conservative Party, Sir Iain Duncan Smith (pictured)

‘This obsession with working from home – it’s fine once in a while, but it’s not fine if it’s every day because the quality of the work cannot be the same. It will hit productivity,’ said ex-leader of the Conservative Party, Sir Iain Duncan Smith (pictured)

The Office for National Statistics granted the highest number of requests to work from abroad – 361 – for ‘business-related travel’, while the UK Atomic Energy Authority, granted 226 requests to work from abroad, all related to ‘personal reasons’. The Food Standards Agency granted 58 and Visit Scotland 43, all for personal reasons. At least 9,834 days were spent working abroad by staff given permission to do so.

Quango staff have been allowed to log in from abroad for weeks at a time from the Maldives, Australia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Greece, Portugal, New Zealand, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Turkey, South Africa, Thailand, Cyprus, Egypt, Anguilla, Tenerife, Malta and Gran Canaria. In September the Mail revealed how local council bosses granted more than 1,350 requests from staff to work from overseas over the past three years.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance campaign group asked 238 quangos about staff working from abroad, of which 37 said they had given 1,076 approvals. Research by the accountants RSM UK found 33 per cent of firms let staff work abroad – a phenomenon branded ‘working from the beach’.

Tory MP David Jones, a member of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said: ‘It’s ludicrous. The pandemic has long gone. Working in another country is preposterous. You can’t do the job properly if you’re sitting in Barcelona.’

Elliot Keck, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Taxpayers are sick of the laid back, easy-going attitude that has taken over the public sector. Basic services are inaccessible, yet quangocrats are happy to go the extra mile to top up their tan, but not to deliver for households.’

A Government spokesman said: ‘Civil servants are allowed to work from abroad only if there are exceptional circumstances. Public bodies who employ non-Civil Service staff [such as quangos], which make up many of those identified in the report, have their own policies. We have always been clear on the benefits of face-to-face work.’



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