Telegraph claims ‘English taxpayers’ are footing the bill for remote working arrangements of Welsh civil servants
The Telegraph has claimed “English taxpayers” are footing the bill for the remote and hybrid working arrangements of civil servants in Wales introduced during the Covid pandemic.
The criticism comes after a Freedom of Information Act request showed that in September, only 10.3% of the 5,287 civil servants attended work in person across the Welsh Government’s 10 main offices.
Jacob Rees-Mogg carried out an attack on the Welsh Government saying its remote workers are a “expensive way of delivering a poor service”.
Rees-Mogg also accused the Welsh Government of “treating taxpayers contemptuously” by pointlessly renting, heating and lighting office space.
He told the Telegraph: “Taxpayers’ money ought to be used responsibly. Although it seems clear that working from home has led to lower quality public services, if for ideological reasons, the Welsh Government encourages working from home, it ought to reduce its office accommodation.”
Since Covid 19 restrictions were lifted in Wales, 9 out of 10 of its civil servants have continued to work from home.
Earlier this year Mr Rees-Mogg, at the time the UK minister for government efficiency, was accused of hypocrisy after pushing for civil servants to return to the office having previously supported flexible working as part of government plans to minimise the need for office space used by civil servants.
Rees-Mogg had written in support of the UK Government’s 2018 Estate Strategy which set out plans to reduce the size of the government estate to free up public land for housing, including by promoting “smarter working” and “working in ways that minimise our need for office space”.
In an essay, co-written by Rees-Mogg, published the following year, he encouraged the government to “accelerate” the plans and appoint a senior cabinet minister “responsible for identifying and releasing public land for housing”.
Mark Drakeford previously supported a blended approach to remote working and said: “There is absolutely no case that says that people don’t work hard unless they are under the gaze of a government.”
A spokesperson for Mr Drakeford said: “Having the flexibility of office, remote and hybrid working brings benefits for local economies, businesses, individuals and the environment. These flexibilities increase productivity, improve work life balance, and deliver less air and noise pollution.
“Our vision is to maximise the benefits of office, remote and hybrid working for our people and organisation. We want to support our staff to retain the benefits of remote-working while also enabling them to come together in an office environment to connect and collaborate in person.”
In Parliament last year, brexiteer Rees-Mogg was unable to identify the leader of the Welsh Conservatives when asked by Labour MP, Kevin Brenna.
The Tory MP for North Somerset couldn’t name Andrew RT Davies and instead said: “My honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales is called Simon Hart.”
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