MOS COMMENT: Why Boris got it right about WFH

MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Why Boris got it right about WFH

Most of Britain is back at work because it wants to be and because it has to be. Legions of jobs – often the tough and demanding ones – cannot be done from home and never have been. 

Millions of people, who thought it was a good idea, are starting to recognise how right Boris Johnson is when he says working from home doesn’t work.

The Efficiency Minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, sent a chill down many Civil Service spines by threatening – jokingly, he says – to compare weather reports and working patterns to see if Whitehall staff are away from their desks more often when the sun is shining. 

Certainly, office attendance tends to be strongest in the middle of the week, raising suspicions that Government employees are quietly extending their weekends.

Millions of people, who thought it was a good idea, are starting to recognise how right Boris Johnson is when he says working from home doesn¿t work

Millions of people, who thought it was a good idea, are starting to recognise how right Boris Johnson is when he says working from home doesn’t work 

Astonishingly, just half of the Home Office’s workforce is going into the office. The Foreign Office is worse at 41 per cent. 

The lowest attendance is at the Department for Work and Pensions, with an average turnout of 38 per cent.

Let these absentee civil servants, who think that two days a week in the office are enough, imagine a world in which others took the same view.

What if those who deliver their parcels and groceries and takeaways were only available 40 per cent of the time, if the police and fire services and health workers ‘worked from home’ for most days of the week.

Let them imagine if our industries and services took the same view. And let them remember where their salaries and pensions come from.

They all know that things would be a lot worse if others did as they are doing, and the country would be too poor to afford many of them. 

If this mass absenteeism does not stop soon, quite a lot of people may be not working at all, from home or anywhere else.

 

Let’s build homes we can cherish – not more grim estates 

We all know that there are not enough houses in this country for all the young families who long to own the roof over their heads. 

As Michael Gove, the Minister for Levelling Up, points out in The Mail on Sunday today, far too many young people must live with their parents when they really want to spread their wings, or rent cramped flats because of a grave shortage of affordable properties.

The easy solution to this is for the Government to let rip by tearing up planning laws and zoning restrictions, and giving developers a free hand to build what they like, where they like.

But future generations will not thank us if we do this. Quantity is not enough.

Michael Gove, pictured last week, writes that 'the consequences of this decline in home ownership among younger people are bleak'

Michael Gove, pictured last week, writes that ‘the consequences of this decline in home ownership among younger people are bleak’

If we want to have a civilised society, people must live in proper communities, not in featureless estates that have no heart. 

As Mr Gove rightly says: ‘Too many new homes have been ugly, shoddily constructed and of poor quality. Identikit creations plonked down without regard to the shape and character of existing communities. 

‘Many new developments have not been accompanied by the investment in infrastructure required alongside.’

He proposes to take on big developers who build soullessly and leave out the facilities – shops, meeting places, parks, GP surgeries, post offices, playgrounds – that people love or need.

n 1995, two-thirds of people aged between 25 and 34 owned their own property ¿ now only bout a quarter do.

In 1995, two-thirds of people aged between 25 and 34 owned their own property – now only about a quarter do

And he says his watchwords will be ‘Beauty, Infrastructure, Democratic control, Environmental enhancement and Neighbourhood protection’.

We very much hope he can succeed. Cynical profiteers can all too easily use the demand for houses as an excuse to concrete over the country or run up shoddy flats whose main aim is to make profits. 

House-building may be the Government’s longest-lasting legacy. Let us make sure that it is a legacy we can be proud of, and that future generations will enjoy rather than endure.

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