Michael Gove helps Priti Patel quell civil servant rebellion over Whitehall’s work from home culture

Michael Gove helps Priti Patel quell civil servant rebellion over Whitehall’s work from home culture

Michael Gove has been working more closely with the Home Office, as Priti Patel faces a power struggle with civil servants over plans to reduce home working.

The Communities Secretary and MP has been in meetings with Priti Patel and her team, as tensions rise over the work from home culture that developed during the pandemic.

Despite calls from ministers for mandarins to return to the office, the Home Office permanent secretary, Matthew Rycroft, has given staff the right to work at home three days a week, The Telegraph reported.

Michael Gove has been working more closely with the Home Office, as Priti Patel faces a power struggle with civil servants over plans to reduce home working.

The Communities Secretary and MP has been in meetings with Priti Patel and her team, as tensions rise over the work from home culture that developed during the pandemic.

Despite calls from ministers for mandarins to return to the office, the Home Office permanent secretary, Matthew Rycroft, has given staff the right to work at home three days a week, The Telegraph reported.

Gove has been sitting next to Priti in meetings and the civil servants don’t like it, because he has a forensic grasp of the details and he won’t take any nonsense,’ a Whitehall source told the paper.

Key issues are proving tense among colleagues, with Mr Gove being described as ‘a bit shouty’ by one source in the paper.

Another source, close to Mr Gove, said that ‘difficult conversations’ have been happening in some of the meetings.

On Thursday, Mr Rycroft publicly supported the director-general of the Passport Office, Abi Tierney.

She has been partially working from home as the office faces a backlog of applications.

The Home Office also published a ‘fact sheet’ stating that working from home has ‘no impact’ on the capacity to process passport applications.

It comes as Jacob Rees-Mogg, minister for efficiency, has been leaving notes on civil servants’ desks when they are out of office.

It reads: ‘Sorry you were out when I visited, I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon.’

Another Whitehall source has claimed in the Telegraph that the prime minister wants to see reports on the number of staff returning to the office each week, from different departments.

This has been met with ‘institutional fightback’, they said.

The Department for Education has agreed four days of office work per week. The the Cabinet Office asks for three, and the Department for Work and Pensions, and Ministry of Justice ask for two.

A spokesperson for the Government said: ‘Ministers and the Cabinet Secretary have been clear that they want government offices returning to full occupancy and all government departments are working hard to achieve this.

Departments should maximise the use of office space and their progress is being closely monitored.’

Ms Patel is facing challenge from civil servants on three areas — the Homes for Ukraine scheme, the Rwanda migrant plan, and the approach to working from home. But she is being supported by Mr Gove.

Sources close to Ms Patel believe civil servants ‘hate’ the Rwanda policy, and are trying to delay the new approach.

TDPel Media

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