'Less than half my office is back at work': Business Sec Kwasi Kwarteng reveals in WFH row

21 January 2022, 08:24 | Updated: 21 January 2022, 09:59

By Asher McShane

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was left squirming over the number of staff heading back to offices in his own department as the rest of the country has been ordered back to work.

Mr Kwarteng was asked by Nick Ferrari at breakfast this morning: “What percentage of your colleagues are back behind their desks in their respective offices in your department?”

Mr Kwarteng replied: “We are trying to increase the number and I’m certain in a few weeks we’ll get people largely very much back to the office.

“I think a five-year-old might notice you didn’t answer my question there, what is the current percentage?” said Nick.

“I don’t know the current percentage. At the height of the pandemic it was substantially lower, about 25 per cent."

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He went on to say the number had gone up, and when pressed further that the number was nonetheless still less than 50 per cent.

“I would say it’s nearly 50 per cent,” said Mr Kwarteng, before conceding he didn’t have the exact figure to hand and joked he had ‘learnt his lesson’ about needing to be armed with exact figures for interviews.

The Prime Minister told MPs in the Commons on Wednesday that work-from-home guidance would be dropped immediately and rules on face coverings in classrooms would also be scrapped in England from Thursday.

Lord Stuart Rose, the new chairman of Asda, hailed the decision to scrap working from home guidance in England, telling LBC he could not believe there was a "nation sitting at home" fearful of coronavirus.

The requirement for mandatory face coverings in public places and Covid passports will also both be ditched from next Thursday as Plan B is lifted.

Boris Johnson announced the end of Plan B measures as he faced intense pressure over Downing Street parties.

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