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Only one in seven civil servants working at the Cabinet Office are back at their desks, figures show

Just one in seven civil servants at the ministry reporting directly to Boris Johnson have returned to the office, the Mail can reveal.

The number of employees back at the Cabinet Office could even be as few as one in ten, a Freedom of Information request has disclosed.

On August 4, around 10 to 15 per cent of staff at the department travelled into work. 

This woeful total comes despite pleas from the Prime Minister for people to stop working from home in a bid to boost the economy. 

It follows fears that city centre shops and restaurants – which rely on footfall from office workers – face ruin if more employees do not return.

Last month the Mail revealed that just one in five of the 430,000 civil servants had returned to work by the end of July.

Critics say that unless Whitehall officials start to return, it will be hard to persuade the general public to go back.

Now we can reveal that the situation is even worse at the Cabinet Office – which contains more than 8,000 civil servants responsible for supporting the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

The department includes employees working for Mr Johnson in No 10 but the Government said the number of staff at work in Downing Street was much higher than the Cabinet Office average.

In its response to the FOI request, the department said as of August 4 ‘between 864 and 1,297 Cabinet Office staff are currently working in the office’ which ‘equates to between 10 and 15 per cent’.

The Mail also asked when all staff will be back in, to which the department replied: ‘We are consulting closely with employees and we are ensuring our workplaces are Covid-secure. We cannot confirm dates at this time.’

Dominic Cummings told aides last month that it would not seem right if Mr Johnson was calling on voters to return to work while his own officials were staying at home. 

Despite this, on A-level results day a Mail audit found just 3 per cent of civil servants were seen turning up at the Department for Education.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The civil service has got to lead the way. Getting back to the office is vital for the economy but if civil servants don’t, then other people can’t be expected to.’

One of Britain’s most senior public servants has taken working from home to new lengths – by relocating to her native Canada during lockdown.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has been based more than 4,500 miles away from her office for the past two months, in a time zone eight hours behind her staff.

She is not due back until next month and is likely to have to isolate for 14 days when she returns.

Her office insists Miss Denham, who is paid £180,000 a year, is working as normal. But industry experts are calling on the data watchdog to resign.

Consultant Tim Turner, who revealed her whereabouts in a blog post, pointed out that her absence has coincided with a number of data protection issues such as the A-level grade algorithm and the test and trace app.

He said: ‘This is a time for the commissioner to be completely on top of data protection regulation in the UK.

‘At a time of crisis and uncertainty, Elizabeth Denham has abandoned her staff with no formal plans to return.’

Her office said last night that Miss Denham, pictured, will ‘work from her home in the UK from 7 September’.

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