More than half of desks in Britain’s council buildings are empty amid a surge in work-from-home culture

  • Number of those registered as working from home has risen from 1,442 to 5,153
  • Occupancy rates in buildings were 40% in September, October and November 

More than half of desks in council buildings are empty following a surge in officials working from home, according to new data.

The number of council staff whose place of work is listed as their home address has grown from 1,442 to 5,153 since 2019, according to figures compiled by the TaxPayers’ Alliance following Freedom of Information requests.

Occupancy rates in some council buildings were 40 per cent in September, October and November 2022, but as low as 7.37 per cent in Stoke on Trent.

Yet 84 of the 114 councils which have published their budgets for the next financial year will raise council tax in April by 4.99 per cent – the maximum allowed. The average band D household will see bills rise by £99 a year.

Elliot Keck of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘The surge in home working is leaving valuable office space deserted. Councils should raise funds by selling off unused assets or get workers back at their desks sharpish.’

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said: ‘It is absurd that a year after the withdrawal of social distancing rules so many council staff are still at home.’

The Local Government Association said: ‘Councils have long experience of managing staff remotely, due to how many staff are not office-based. Flexible working is ultimately good for retention and for morale.’


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