'Hunky dory for him, tough on tax payers': Mogg hits out at Khan's US trip

13 May 2022, 09:06 | Updated: 13 May 2022, 11:40

By Megan Hinton

Jacob Rees-Mogg has hit out at Sadiq Khan's latest trip to the America, as he questioned whether taxpayers in the capital were getting "value" for their money.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, the Brexit minister hit out at reports that up to 90 of Mr Khan's civil servants must apply to their bosses at City Hall to use one of just nine hot desks as they continue to work from home.

When questioned about whether or not the civil service were delivering value for money, Mr Rees-Mogg said: "You may ask a good question about whether anyone gets value from Sadiq Khan but you probably don't want me to go down that particular rabbit hole."

Pressed further on what he meant he criticised the London Mayor by saying: "Well if look at what’s happening in London, the pillaring of the motorist, making doing business in London more difficult... the mayor of London is letting people down."

Nick continued by asking about Mr Khan's four-day trip to the US this week where he will visit New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles in a bid to boost London's tourism industry.

Mr Rees-Mogg hit out: "And who is paying for his fair? Is that a good use of taxpayers' money?

"The precept for the Greater London Authority goes up and up and he goes swanning off around the world. It's all hunky dory for him and tough on tax payers."

Read more: Boris to axe 90,000 civil service jobs and save Brits £3.5bn amid cost of living crisis

Sadiq Khan visited a cannabis dispensary and cultivation facility on Wednesday
Sadiq Khan visited a cannabis dispensary and cultivation facility on Wednesday. Picture: Alamy

Sadiq Khan moved staff out to the Royal Docks in East London in an attempt to save more than £60 million in rent over five years.

But the Crystal building only has capacity for 215 of the 400 staff.

LBC has found the London Assembly - set up to hold the Mayor to account - is only holding its public meetings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until the end of the year.

Mr Rees-Mogg called it "suspicious", condemning the idea that Mondays and Fridays are no longer viewed as full working days for civil servants who work from home.

In a statement, a spokesman for Sadiq Khan told LBC: "Teams based at City Hall are encouraged to spend two or three days a week in the building as part of the GLA's new model of working that sees staff split their time between the office and home – a system that evidence shows improves productivity and well-being."

Read more: Sadiq Khan has an 'open mind' and is 'eager' to debate decriminalising cannabis in UK

A new target of cutting 91,000 civil service jobs from the 475,000 army of mandarins over two years has been set.

The Daily Mail estimated this could save about £3.5 billion a year, based on the average civil servant salary of £28,100, with National Insurance contributions and pensions adding a further £10,000 in costs.

The plans have been opposed by the FDA union for civil servants, which accused the Government of chasing headline grabbing news, while senior mandarins responded to Mr Rees-Mogg's much-publicised demands they return to the office by saying work is no longer a place.

Speaking about the planned job losses, the minister said: "What we want to do is ensure Government is operating as efficiently as possible and taxpayers' money is spent properly, that is our duty."

Mr Rees-Mogg told Nick: "I think it's quite an extraordinary thing to say, it's a very privileged thing to say – for people in manufacturing, work is a place, for people cleaning work is a place, for security work is a place, for millions of people across this country work is a place."

He said that while the civil service had swelled from 2016 amid the Government's grappling with Brexit and Covid, he questioned where LBC's audience had noticed any improvement in public services in that time.