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WFH at City Hall as 90 civil servants told to apply for one of nine desks, LBC reveals

13 May 2022, 13:48

Sadiq Khan is urging his civil servants to work from home two or three days a week.
Sadiq Khan is urging his civil servants to work from home two or three days a week. Picture: Alamy
Theo Usherwood

By Theo Usherwood

In recent weeks, we have heard a lot about Government ministers trying to persuade civil servants to return to their desks.

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But now it has emerged that over at the new City Hall at the Royal Docks, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has taken a very different approach, urging civil servants to spend half their time working from home.

In a memo seen by LBC, up to 90 civil servants in one department based at the Crystal are told there are just nine hot-desks available that they can apply for if they want to be guaranteed a spot when arriving at the office.

Meanwhile, LBC has discovered members of the London Assembly are just holding meetings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays between now and the end of this year.

Government efficiencies minister Jacob Rees-Mogg criticised the decision when he appeared on LBC this morning.

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The Greater London Authority’s new City Hall named the Crystal located at the Royal Docks in Newham.
The Greater London Authority’s new City Hall named the Crystal located at the Royal Docks in Newham. Picture: Alamy

He said: “The idea that Monday and Friday have ceased to be full working days is one that one should be very suspicious about because it indicates that some people are using working from home to do less work.

“That is not want you want as a tax-payer for people paid at tax-payers’ expense.

“If you look at what is happening in London, if you look at the pillorying of the motorist, of making doing business more difficult, the Mayor of London is letting people down.”

The move to the Crystal was announced at the end of 2020 as the Mayor looked to cut costs in the face of the pandemic.

According to City Hall estimates, the cheaper rent in east London will save the tax-payer more than £60 million over five years.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Picture: Alamy

The office at the Crystal only has enough room for 215 desks but it has 408 members of staff who are attached to it. That means that at any one time just over half those entitled to work at City Hall can come into office.

In a statement to LBC, a spokesperson for Sadiq Khan defended the move.

They said: “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.”