“More than half” of staff in one Government department are back in work, a minister has said, after pictures showed parts of the capital still empty of office workers.
The claims come amid a push for civil servants to lead from the front and get back to their desks as Downing Street wants to encourage people back to the workplace.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said “more than half” of staff are “fully back in the offices” at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, she added: “But even then we have capacity on how many people can be in a Covid-safe environment within our workplace.”
Ms Coffey said that 799 of the department’s 804 sites are open, and hoped that children returning to school would give parents more opportunities to go back to the office.
The minister told the programme: “It’s important that employers and employees have that discussion about Covid-safe environments,” and added: “There’ll be more opportunities for parents to go back into the office if that’s what is the best thing for them and their employer.”
On Tuesday evening, pictures from the previously bustling City of London showed empty streets and Tube stations at rush hour after the Prime Minister said people were returning “in huge numbers to the office”.
Downing Street could not provide figures to back up the claims.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: “I don’t have the figures especially for today but you can expect to see more civil servants return to the office over the coming weeks with the return of Parliament and children to schools.
“We’ve been clear with departments that they need to ensure Government workspaces are Covid-secure and permanent secretaries have been undertaking the work to return civil servants to the office or workplace.”