A “working from home” culture risks long-term damage to how public services are delivered, Kit Malthouse, the Cabinet Office minister, has warned.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster also said that he wanted officials to be spending at least three days in the office.
Mr Malthouse admitted that the number of officials working from home was “a problem” on this weekend’s edition of Chopper’s Politics Podcast.
He said: “There’s a critical issue I think, at the heart of this that we have to face, and that is our obligation to young people.
“Young people cannot learn remotely if they’re sitting in their bedroom, in their little flats as a junior civil servant, they do not pick up the nuance, the skills, the informal mentoring that more senior officials and indeed politicians can provide.”
Asked if a working from home culture damaged public service delivery, he added: “Over time, it will because they won’t be as skilled.”
He added: “My personal view is I would think it would be a bit odd if you weren’t spending three to four days a week in the office.
“Young people need to see a variety of senior people and to learn from a variety of people and they need to encounter you.
“And to be perfectly honest with you, young people found it very soul-destroying being stuck at home – it was quite depressing.”
Mr Malthouse declined to say which of the two leadership candidates – Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss – he would be supporting.
Mr Malthouse, a long-term ally of Boris Johnson, also poured cold water on the petition of 14,000 members demanding a vote on whether Mr Johnson had to resign.
He said: “It’s just not going to happen. It’s not in the rules. You’ve got to turn a page and the time has come ... one of the things we now have to focus on is who and where we go next.”
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