Boris Johnson hits out at some workers’ ‘post-Covid work from home manana’ culture
Boris Johnson has criticized some workers over their working practices in the wake of the pandemic as delays in obtaining new driving licenses and passports continue. The Prime Minister acknowledged his accusations of a “post-Covid Manana work-from-home culture”, while questioning whether working from home was “as productive as all this”. It comes as it is understood the passport office is overwhelmed with applications, with an average wait time of 10 weeks meaning some Britons may miss their summer holidays.
In an interview with Talk TV, Mr Johnson did not deny threatening to ‘privatise the a**e’ of the Passport Office if he fails to clear its backlog, reports the Mirror. Meanwhile, when asked if he had used the phrase in Cabinet, he said: “I used those words. I didn’t necessarily use them about any particular institution.” Pressed to find out who he was talking about, he said: “I think we have a general problem in some of our approaches to public services and perhaps more broadly, that we’ve all gotten used to working from home, zooming the calls, to think that we could do business like that.
“I think for a lot of people, that’s great. I don’t want to downplay the value of that, I think for a lot of people, especially women who have kids and so on.” The Prime Minister then corrected himself and clarified he was talking about parents rather than women, adding: ‘I don’t want to be stereotyped about anyone.’
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It comes after Mr Johnson ordered his top team to come up with ideas to ease the pressure on the cost of living for Britons – but without spending extra government money.
Mr Johnson said he accepted there are benefits to working from home but was ‘the keeper of the public purse’, adding: ‘I have to wonder if it’s actually as productive as any When I see institutions not issuing things like passports or driving licenses quickly – those things are quite expensive, it costs £150 to get a new passport – we want action.”
He did not deny he had threatened to ‘privatize the a**e’ of the Passport Office – but said he did not care whether an institution was private or public as long as it offered good value for money. Pressed on whether he was going to privatize it, he said: “I’m not going to rule anything out.”
It comes after Tory minister Jacob Rees-Mogg was criticized for leaving notes for officials saying ‘Sorry you were away during my visit’ in a bid to force officials back to office.
A spokesperson for the HM Passport Office said: “As of April 2021 we have been advising people to allow up to 10 weeks to apply for their UK passport as over five million people have delayed their application due to the pandemic. We urge people who need a new passport to apply for one as soon as possible, with the vast majority of all passport applications being processed within 10 weeks.
“To meet this demand, we have increased our staff by 500 since April 2021. This has helped us process more applications than ever before, with over one million passport applications processed in March 2022.”
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