The poor performance of certain civil service departments, notably the Home Office, may be down to absenteeism which we’re all now paying for according to Dan Hannan in an article for the Telegraph.
The story of D1, an eight-man Peruvian dance band three of whom were unable to make it to Britain as originally scheduled owing to Home Office inertia is symptomatic of a much wider problem including a department-wide refusal of many of its civil servants to return to the office.
From distressed Ukrainian refugees to stressed out drivers awaiting the granting or renewal of their driving licences, delays are common-place across the system.
“This is the context in which Jacob Rees-Mogg is politely reminding civil servants that they are supposed to turn up to work. There has been an enraged response from their trade unions, but the Minister for Government Efficiency would not be doing his job if he were not trying to make the government efficient.”
What gave rise to this action is revealing:
“A few weeks ago, the Mogg was informed that he urgently needed to approve the renewal of a lease on some expensive London property to a certain state agency. To the consternation of his officials, he decided immediately to inspect the supposedly critical site, and found it empty.
On further investigation, he discovered that the same was true across Whitehall. The problem was worse in some ministries than others, and seemed to correlate roughly with the wokeness of the officials. Most MoD staff managed to make it into the office, for example, but only one desk in four at the Department of Education was occupied.”
But it is not a case of requiring people to turn up just for the sake of it. There is a business case for coming into work each day:
“Last week, a study by Columbia University found that people paired over Zoom were significantly less likely to come up with new ideas than people paired face to face. Almost all surveys show the same thing: for example, a major evaluation of 61,000 employees last year carried out by Microsoft found that working from home left them in intellectual silos, less communicative and less likely to come up with useful suggestions.
The evidence, so far, is that most companies want to see their employees in the flesh, and are prepared to pay commensurately. As one of our most successful employers told me, “If they’re working from home, they’re not working for me. They’re picking their kids up at three.”
And with the massive expansion of the state since furlough, its capacity to function effectively becomes even more important:
“To see why government inefficiency is a problem, wrap your head around the extraordinary fact that, in the last fiscal year, the state accounted for 52.1 per cent of the economy. Yes, that figure was distorted by furlough payments and other grants. Still, an unresponsive state sector is a deadweight on the economy.
The message is clear:
“The rest of the country is returning to the office. State officials cannot expect a permanent exemption paid for by the rest of us.”
The full article can be read here with a link to the original beneath it: