JUST a THIRD of civil servants are expected to be back in the office by the end of the year, union bosses have admitted.
The revelation is a huge blow for the Prime Minister, who has been leading a push for people to get back to their offices if they can to save the economy.
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Downing Street wants the civil service to lead by example and help prop up the bars, cafes and other businesses that continue to be left empty.
Thousands of businesses in city centres are still struggling to make ends meet as many stay at home over fears of catching the virus.
And Dave Penman, head of the FDA union which represents senior civil servants, told the Financial Times that the government had realised it was difficult to persuade some officials to return to the office following a series of local outbreaks.
He said: “In most [government] departments the numbers [of civil servants returning to the office] are steadily going up but it’s not going to be huge numbers, it’s not going to be a majority [by the end of the year], we’ll probably get to 30 or 40 per cent over time.”
The UK’s largest civil service trade union, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has also poured cold water on the plans for a return, saying the move would risk health and safety.
But MPs have called on firms to get back to the office to help the nation recover.
Ben Everitt, the MP for Milton Keynes North, said: “With the kids going back to school it’s now time to get our offices and businesses bouncing back.
“We all still have a part to play and getting our city centres buzzing again is crucial to our economic recovery.”
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith told The Sun it was “pathetic” and “selfish” for big firms and civil servants to shun their offices and remain at home any longer.
He raged: “They are showing rank cowardice. Anyone who is fortunate enough to earn taxpayers’ money needs to bear the responsibility for that.
“If MPs can work it out without any problems, they should be doing it now, rather than shirking their responsibilities.”
He called on Whitehall and big multinationals to get back into city centres to help save Britain’s business, adding: “If they don’t go back, many will go bust and leave even more people unemployed.”
After several outbreaks of the virus in Leicester, Northampton and the North West, and as cases rise in Birmingham, many workers still fear a second wave of the virus hitting the UK.
Whitehall insiders admit it’s likely that most of them will stay home for the majority of the time in the coming months – even as kids go back to school next week.
Employees at Google, RBS, Vodafone and BP are expected to remain mostly at home for the rest of the year.
Boris previously warned that if everyone stays at home, “I’m afraid we will see further job losses and a loss of some of those fantastic businesses that we see in our cities.”
He’s urged those who can to chat to their bosses about coming back into the office.
But not everyone will be able to return and still keep to social distancing rules.
Some offices say they can only have 30 per cent capacity in order to keep their staff safe.