'It's safe to go back to the office,' minister tells LBC after Rishi comments

3 August 2021, 08:38 | Updated: 3 August 2021, 09:05

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

After Rishi Sunak told young people that going into the office can be “really beneficial” to their careers and warned that video conferencing was no substitute, Tom Swarbrick questioned a government minister.

Speaking to Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Gillian Keegan, Tom asked if the Chancellor's comments meant the government was telling people to go back to work in the office.

"No, no. All we're saying is it's safe to go back to the office."

The minister said the government was using the summer to urge businesses to "be cautious" and to "start to ramp up."

But, she said the government was not telling businesses what to do, it was up to them to decide.

Tom asked the minister if this meant the government doesn’t have a view, "unlike last year?"

Ms Keegan said: "Last year, we did have a view, which it was not safe to go to the office."

Tom pointed out the Chancellor had been "banging the drum" for getting people back into work with his comments.

"Well yes, but now we’re double-vaccinated, we’re seeing case rates go down.

"We’ve opened up the economy, the case rates are still going down. It’s different now. People are travelling and we’re not seeing case rates go up etcetera, so, you know, there was a time in the pandemic when we basically said, work from home.

"We’re now saying that time has gone. It’s safe to go back to the office.

"Use the summer to ramp up that, as it’s going to be.

"Of course, there’ll be flexible working in the future as well, but it’s very much safe to go back to the office and that’s new. That is new, as part of the unlocking that happened or the restrictions that were lifted just two weeks ago."

Ministers have dropped formal advice to work from home and instead “expect and recommend a gradual return over the summer”.

Speaking about a recent visit to Scotland where he met with young financial services workers, Sunak told LinkedIn News: “I was telling them the mentors that I found when I first started my job I still talk to and they have been helpful to me all through my career even after we have gone in different ways.

“I doubt I would have had those strong relationships if I was doing my summer internship or my first bit of my career over Teams and Zoom.

“And that’s why I think for young people in particular being able to physically be in an office is valuable.”

Sunak has been the most vocal government supporter of getting people back to the office and increasing footfall in city centres post-freedom day.

More Tom Swarbrick

See more More Tom Swarbrick

'Nonsense' to suggest Brexit to blame for surge in inflation, says Dr Liam Fox

'Nonsense' to suggest Brexit to blame for surge in inflation, says Tory MP

Turkey could block Sweden and Finland from joining NATO claims Erdogan ally

Turkey could block Sweden and Finland from joining NATO, claims ex-Erdogan aide

Kwasi Kwarteng said people look at British buildings and “make a judgement” on “our standing in the world”

'We project world standing': Minister defends Govt plans to buy '£20m New York partyhouse'

Swarbrick On Sunday 18/07

Swarbrick On Sunday 15/5 | Watch again

Starmer's position would be 'strengthened' if cleared of beergate - former Labour manifesto writer

Starmer's position 'strengthened' if cleared of 'Beergate' - ex-Labour manifesto writer

Deputy PM Dominic Raab speaks to LBC's Tom Swarbrick on the NI Protocol.

'Nothing off the table': Raab says fixing Brexit deal 'critical' for Northern Ireland

Swarbrick On Sunday 18/07

Swarbrick On Sunday 08/5 | Watch again

Jeremy Corbyn: Keir Starmer Beergate investigation 'very serious'

Jeremy Corbyn: Keir Starmer Beergate investigation 'very serious'

American politician tied in knots over 'biblical' defence of abortion bans

American politician tied in knots over 'biblical' defence of abortion bans

Iain Dale on Sunday | Watch live from 10am

Iain Dale On Sunday Election Special 1/05 | Watch again

Angela Rayner lashed out at the "lies" being briefed about her

Rayner hits out at Tory MPs' 'desperate, perverted smears' after Basic Instinct claims

Swarbrick On Sunday 18/07

Swarbrick On Sunday 24/4 | Watch again

The Session with Tom Swarbrick - a new podcast from LBC

The Session with Tom Swarbrick - a new podcast from LBC

'No civilians were killed by Russian missiles': Watch Russian news host's outrageous interview with Tom Swarbrick

'No civilians were killed by our missiles': Watch Russian news host's outrageous interview

Swarbrick On Sunday 18/07

Swarbrick On Sunday 10/4 | Watch again

Swarbrick on Sunday | Watch LIVE

Swarbrick on Sunday 3/04 | Watch again