As taxpayers feel the pinch, civil servants fret about their work-life balance

SIR – It is an insult to taxpayers that many civil servants are still working from home.

Meanwhile, in the real world, those who work in the private sector – which generates wealth to support Civil Service profligacy – are facing insecurity and spiraling costs.

Good luck to Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Roy Hodgson
Little Brington, Northamptonshire

SIR – I have no objection to employees working from home if – and only if – their employers do not use this as an excuse for appalling service.

Bill Halkett
Ormskirk, Lancashire

SIR – The Civil Service unions are threatening an all-out strike if plans to cut 91,000 jobs go ahead.

Will anyone notice any difference?

Richard Freer
Ribaute-les-Tavernes, Gard, France

SIR – I read of the trouble people have had trying to obtain new passports and driving licenses. Meanwhile, I have been able to renew insurance policies, and buy and sell investments. The private sector is functioning – so why can’t the public sector do the same?

Sitting in an open carriage heading home from work in London in the late 1980s, I listened to a recent graduate talking to a friend, extolling his new employment in the Civil Service. He did not actually have to do any work, he said. He just had to claim he needed more staff under him in order to increase his pay grade.

It seems not much has changed.

RK Webb
Axminster, Devon

SIR – Over 30 years as a freelance writer, I always rented an office.

I could have worked from home, but the presence of other people working in other professions – accountancy, law, charity – made for a supportive work atmosphere, and made me more productive. Of course, I was only paid for what I wrote, and not for my rank or position. The outcome more than compensated for the journey.

By contrast, a journalist friend of mine, working from home, used to tie his leg to his chair as it was all too easy to go out for the paper, take the dog for a walk or make another coffee.

I’ve also read that a well-known cartoonist had a garden office and, each morning, would kiss his wife goodbye, walk to the office for the day, and come home in the evening.

John Stringer
Harbury, Warwickshire

SIR – Demonising home-workers as privileged and work-shy ignores the fact that they often have borne substantial costs to build or repurpose rooms, purchase office furniture and equipment, and sometimes even buy or rent larger houses.

More importantly, a transition to home-working when feasible offers significant economic, environmental and societal benefits. These include vibrant city centers with higher residential use, supporting those businesses that previously serviced commuters; the relocation of other businesses out of cities into surrounding towns and villages to service those able to work from home; fewer journeys, resulting in lower carbon emissions; and parents being able to see more of their children.

Dr. David Slawson

Lost green fields

SIR – Michael Gove may be correct that, in certain parts of the country, a lack of housing for the young is costing his party votes.

However, it is quite clear that in West Oxfordshire the decision to allocate large green-field sites for housing development has lost the Conservatives many votes. It is not necessary to be a Nimby to believe there can come a point when our historic towns and their facilities are overwhelmed, however well new developments are designed. Sadly, Woodstock is an example of this.

Dr. Alan Hearne
Woodstock, Oxfordshire

SIR – With the exceptions of Plymouth and Exeter, there were no elections in the whole of Devon and Cornwall.

Had there been, the ever deepening housing crisis caused by rampant second-home ownership would have meant a total rout for the Tories.

You report that, among those aged 25-34, home ownership nationally has halved since the 1980s. The situation in the South West is far worse than that.

Simon Cox
Brixham, Devon

SIR – David Vaudrey (Letters, May 8) suggests that the right to buy reduces the number of houses available for rent, but that is only part of the picture.

I helped my parents buy their council house under Margaret Thatcher, meaning that a couple who would otherwise have had to rent for the rest of their lives were removed from the rental market.

They also took over responsibility for all the costs of maintaining their home from the council, and paid appropriate local taxes.

If the capital and revenue generated had been used to build more social housing, the total housing stock would have increased, reducing pressure on both rents and house prices.

Neil Harvey
Villanueva de la Concepción, Málaga, Spain


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