Boris threatens to 'privatise the a*** off' the Passport Office

Boris threatens to ‘privatise the a*** off’ the Passport Office and DVLA unless they step up services as he slams ‘post-Covid manana culture’ – as £18m council HQ sits EMPTY and civil servants defy Rees-Mogg’s bid to end WFH

  • Boris Johnson threatened to ‘privatise the a*** off’ failing government agencies
  • The Passport Office and DVLA have been condemned over delays in documents 
  • Ministries said to be half-full despite efforts of Jacob Rees-Mogg to end WFH  

Boris Johnson has threatened to ‘privatise the a*** off’ the Passport Office and DVLA unless they step up services, it was revealed today.

The PM laid into the ‘post-Covid manana culture’ at some government agencies as he urged the Cabinet to find efficiencies that can help ease the cost-of-living crisis.

The swipe at lingering pandemic practices such as working from home came amid fury at ‘nightmare’ delays in receiving new passports.

Meanwhile, the DVLA has been condemned for being slow issuing licences, with ministers partly blaming refusal to return to offices.

The Cabinet meeting this morning was focused on brainstorming measures that can protect Britons from soaring prices. 

But it is understood Mr Johnson also highlighted the importance of making services run better.

Sources said that could avoid people having to pay out more, such as for express passport renewals.   

Boris Johnson (pictured in 2020) laid into the ‘post-Covid manana culture’ at some government agencies as he urged the Cabinet to find efficiencies that can help ease the cost-of-living crisis

The DVLA has been condemned for being slow issuing licences, with ministers partly blaming refusal to return to offices

London ministries are said to be less than half-full despite the efforts of Jacob Rees-Mogg to pry them from their spare rooms and kitchen tables.

Britons say their holiday plans are being thrown into doubt because of ‘nightmare’ delays in receiving their new passports.

Families say they fear missing out on long-awaited trips because they have not yet received the important travel documents – despite applying for them months ago.

One family today revealed how they are yet to receive a passport nearly two months after ordering it – even after shelling out an extra £100 to ‘fast track’ their application.

Meanwhile, a wedding photographer today said she faces losing out on a £3,000 job in France because her passport has not arrived – despite her applying for it back in September. 

It comes as officials today sounded the alarm over the delays, which they say are being caused by an ‘unprecedented demand’ for new passports.

Officials say five million Britons have delayed renewing their passports because of coronavirus restrictions. 

And post-Brexit travel rules from the EU have complicated matters further as they require travelling Britons to have at least three months validity remaining when travelling to EU member nations.

As a result, Britons are now being warned they face a 10-week wait for their passport – instead of the usual three week turnaround time.

The delays are causing chaos for families who are still yet to receive their passports – despite applying for them months ago.

Officials today sounded the alarm over the passport delays, which they say are being caused by ‘unprecedented demand’.

Five million Britons have delayed renewing their passports because of coronavirus restrictions. 

And post-Brexit travel rules from the EU have complicated matters further as they require travelling Britons to have at least three months validity remaining when travelling to EU member nations.

As a result, Britons are now being warned they face a 10-week wait for their passport – instead of the usual three week turnaround time.

The delays are causing chaos for families who are still yet to receive their passports – despite applying for them months ago.

One family today told MailOnline how they face losing out on a £1,100 holiday to Spain next month because they are still without one of their passports.

Meanwhile, the civil service is resisting attempts by ministers to force them to ditch working from home and return to Whitehall.

London ministries are said to be less than half-full despite the efforts of Jacob Rees-Mogg to pry them from their spare rooms and kitchen tables.

Mr Rees-Mogg’s zealous attempts to end WFH, including leaving notes on empty desks, have not been backed by other ministers, with Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries accusing him of a ‘Dickensian’ approach to the issue.

The Cabinet is also said to have backed away from the idea of stripping London weighting from the salaries of people who are still not yet commuting back into the capital. 

Dave Penman, the secretary general of the Civil service’s FDA union, said: ‘Hybrid working can save taxpayers millions by reducing the government estate and the pandemic showed that effective public services can be delivered regardless of where staff are placed.’

Mr Rees-Mogg has written to Cabinet ministers calling on them to issue a clear message to staff about a ‘rapid return to the office’ and has been leaving notes in empty Whitehall workspaces with the message: ‘I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon.’

Downing Street said Boris Johnson supported Mr Rees-Mogg’s efforts.

‘What the minister is seeking to achieve is to do everything possible to get the civil service to return to the pre-pandemic level,’ the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

‘That is what he is seeking to do. That is supported by the Cabinet Secretary and obviously the Prime Minister.’

Last week Mr Rees-Mogg voiced frustration with the DVLA, saying: ‘I am still constantly writing to DVLA on behalf of my constituents to get them driving licences and we know that the DVLA was simply not working properly with people working from home. That’s very unfair on my constituents.’

Fury as Cambridgeshire County Council’s new £18m HQ lies empty with staff STILL not back at their desks due to ‘Covid rules’ 

A new multi-million pound council headquarters has been left virtually empty while staff continue to work from home, it has been claimed, as civil servants in London continue to do the same with the latest figures showing some Government departments are less than half full.

New Shire Hall, the newly built headquarters of Cambridgeshire County Council, was opened last summer in Alconbury at a cost of £18million to the taxpayer but social distancing measures still in place at the council mean it is yet to reach full capacity.

Critics said the decision to continue limited use of the building ‘beggars belief’ and said it was ‘costing residents money’.

It comes as the Civil Service is resisting attempts by ministers to force them to ditch working from home and return to Whitehall.

London ministries are said to be less than half-full despite the efforts of Jacob Rees-Mogg to pry them from their spare rooms and kitchen tables.

Mr Rees-Mogg’s attempts to end WFH, including leaving notes on empty desks, have not been backed by other ministers, with Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries accusing him of a ‘Dickensian’ approach to the issue. 

However, the Guardian reported that the country’s most senior civil servant, Simon Case, had in fact privately warned Mr Johnson against forcing officials back to the office.

The newspaper said at least four permanent secretaries were also understood to have voiced concerns about the Government’s rhetoric on the matter

Asked if the notes left on desks by Mr Rees-Mogg were helpful, the PM’s spokesman said Mr Johnson ‘supports any initiative that encourages people to return to pre-pandemic working’.

‘We are not talking about putting an end to flexible working, which continues to have a place in the modern workplace, we are talking about returning to pre-pandemic use of taxpayer-funded departmental buildings.’

The Times reported that Ms Dorries’ response was highly critical of Mr Rees-Mogg’s approach.

Mr Rees-Mogg presented figures to Cabinet last week showing that some Government departments were using as little as 25 per cent of office capacity in early April – the figure for Ms Dorries’ Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport was 43 per cent.

Ms Dorries told him his letter to Government departments brought to mind ‘images of burning tallow, rheumy eyes and Marley’s ghost’ – a reference to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

The two ministers have long disagreed about the need to return to places of work following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

But the dispute between the two was ‘good natured’, one Government source said. Mr Rees-Mogg would not comment on the row, citing Cabinet confidentiality rules.

Unions have objected to Mr Rees-Mogg’s approach, with warnings his stance is damaging civil service morale.

Mr Penman warned that ‘good people will leave and the civil service brand is trashed in a highly competitive employment market’.

The Guardian reported that the country’s most senior civil servant, Simon Case, had privately warned Mr Johnson against forcing officials back to the office

Ms Dorries told him his letter to Government departments brought to mind ‘images of burning tallow, rheumy eyes and Marley’s ghost’ – a reference to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1938 film version, below).

Mr Rees-Mogg used a Mail on Sunday article to warn that officials may lose the London weighting on their pay or see their jobs moved elsewhere if they were not at their desks.

‘Essentially, if people are not back in their office it will be fair to assume that the job does not need to be in London,’ he said.

Responding to the reports in The Guardian, a Government spokesman said: ‘We want to see office attendance across the civil service consistently back at normal, pre-pandemic levels.

‘There is total agreement across Government on there being clear benefits from face-to-face, collaborative working and we know that this is particularly important for the learning and development of new members of staff.

‘The minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency has written to departments to underline the importance of workplace attendance and request that they review their existing guidance on the minimum number of days staff work in the office.’

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