Daily Mail

Lead by example! Minister tells top mandarins to get back to the office

- By Claire Ellicott Whitehall Editor

MINISTERS have ordered mandarins to get back into the office to lead ‘by example’ – in a fresh drive to cut working from home levels.

They also want to make it easier to dismiss underperfo­rming civil servants.

Cabinet Office minister John Glen, who has set a target for staff to attend at least 60 per cent of their hours from April, said there were ‘many benefits’ to office working. He added that underperfo­rmers should be sacked – and not just shuffle them to new roles.

Mr Glen made the comments as it emerged that one council is being forced to double the amount spent on hiring agency workers to cover staff who were allowed to reduce their hours for a four-day week.

Speaking at the Institute for Government’s annual conference on civil service reform yesterday, he said: ‘There is no denying that there are many benefits to colleagues working all together in the office.

‘People can be more productive and complex tasks can be overcome more efficientl­y.

‘ I’ve already set out the expectatio­n for staff to be in the office at least 60 per cent of the time.

‘And I believe that our senior civil servants need to set an example as leaders and I want to consider how this expectatio­n can be baked into our management of senior staff, which is why we’ll be making this distinctio­n clearer for senior civil servants at the start of the performanc­e year.

‘Ultimately, I want staff to bring themselves, their ideas, their passion, and their dedication into the office to tackle problems together.’

Ministers have long railed against the work-from-home culture in Whitehall.

In April 2022, former government efficiency minister Jacob Rees-Mogg shared an image of an empty Cabinet Office which enraged him so much that he left notes for the civil servants saying ‘sorry you were out when I visited, I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon’. He also threatened to sell off £1.5billion worth of government premises in London.

In the speech by Mr Glen, also the Paymaster General, he said civil servant pay should be linked to performanc­e with the provision that it should be easier to let underperfo­rmers go.

He added: ‘I do want to have higher pay where it’s linked to performanc­e management and proven, but . . . the corollary of that is saying, “Well, you know, some people need to be let go more swiftly”.’

Meanwhile, South Cambridges­hire District Council has previously insisted it would cut its £2million-a-year agency staff bill, because a four- day week would attract more candidates for vacant posts.

But BBC analysis of the data, published on Monday, shows that in November the town hall spent £109,089 on agency staff – more than twice the £49,195 average for 2022-23.

Tory MP Anthony Browne said it was a comprehens­ive disaster of the ‘ ideologica­l fantasylan­d experiment’.

‘Let go those who underperfo­rm’

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