Thursday 27 August 2020 9:12 pm

Sir Graham Brady calls on ministers to get workers back to the office

An influential senior Tory MP has urged the government to give workers a “clear and consistent message” that it is safe to return to the office.

Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 committee of backbench Conservatives, said that if ministers did not do so there would be “devastating consequences” for the country’s towns and cities.

Read more: UK firms must return to the office to revive the economy, says CBI boss

Speaking to the Times, Brady said: “Of course there are some businesses which find their staff are just as productive working from home.

“What is essential is that the government gives a clear and consistent message that is perfectly safe for people to return to town.

“They should not be worried about infections as a result of travelling on trains and buses.

“We can all see the devastating consequences for many businesses when a huge proportion of the customers on whom they depend simply aren’t coming into our towns and cities”, he finished.

Earlier this week, Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said that it was up to individual employers to decide whether to bring back employees,  refusing to say if the PM supports growing calls for people to return to work.

The comments came in stark contrast with the Johnson’s own words earlier this month when he called for people to have “confidence” to return to the workplace.

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Brady’s is the latest voice to join a rising crowd of those calling for the Prime Minister to take steps to urge employees back to their places of work.

This morning, Dame Carolyn Fairburn, the head of the CBI, warned that the country’s centres of commerce could become permanent “ghost towns” if the issue was not addressed imminently.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Fairburn said that the return of office workers was as important as the return of school pupils.

“The costs of office closure are becoming clearer by the day. Some of our busiest city centres resemble ghost towns, missing the usual bustle of passing trade. This comes at a high price for local businesses, jobs and communities”, she wrote.

London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has also called for a return to work, saying recently that empty offices were “a big problem” for the economy.

Read more: Eight out of 10 UK workers expect to return to the office this year

Fears over the future of city centres are growing as recent analysis shows just 17 per cent of people had returned to work in the UK’s 63 biggest cities, unchanged from June when lockdown started to lift.

Yesterday online trader IG became the latest in a raft of firms to tell workers that there was no requirement to return to the office if they did not wish to do so.