In Brief

As few as one in ten civil servants heed Boris Johnson’s ‘back to work’ call, new figures show

FOI request reveals that between just 10% and 15% of Cabinet Office staff have returned to office

Boris Johnson’s call for Britons to “go back to work if they can” has gone largely unheeded not only across the country but also within Westminster, according to newly released figures. 

A freedom of information (FOI) request to the Cabinet Office has revealed that as of 4 August, between 846 and 1,297 of the department’s staff had returned, the Daily Mail reports.

The “woeful” figures equate to between 10% and 15% of the total number of employees at the Cabinet Office, which answers directly to Boris Johnson, says the newspaper.

The prime minister has been urging UK workers “to get back to the office environment” from this month in a bid to boost the economy, adds The Telegraph

Johnson has promised that the government would “give employers more discretion and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely”.

“Whatever employers decide, they should consult closely with their employees, and only ask people to return to their place of work if it is safe,” he told a Downing Street press briefing in mid July.

The PM’s repeated “back to work” calls come amid “fears that city-centre shops and restaurants – which rely on footfall from office workers – face ruin if more employees do not return”, according to the Mail.

Ros Morgan, chief executive of Heart of London Business Alliance, told fashion industry-focused news site Drapers this week that since the changes in the government’s guidance on returning to work came into effect on 1 August, “there has been a clear 10% increase in visitors to the West End”.

“Furthermore, the importance of returning office workers is evident as shopping districts such as Jermyn Street have had a notably lower week-on-week footfall increase than areas such as Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, which have a more diverse range of visitors,” she added.

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