Sadiq Khan admits for first time that staff working from home is a ‘BIG PROBLEM for central London’… after months of warning people to stay off Tubes
- London Mayor had previously urged people to stay off the underground
- Mr Khan warned earlier this year they should ‘stay at home as much as possible’
- Now he has admitted for the first time it causes ‘big problem for central London’
- Mr Khan told companies ‘small businesses rely on your workers going to work’
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan today admitted coronavirus-fearing companies’ empty city offices were killing the economy, declaring ‘If we all stay at home working it’s a big problem’.
The comments were a massive change in tack from Mr Khan, who had previously told workers only to use public transport if they could not work at home.
But as small companies face bankruptcy from a lack of footfall he urged big firms to reconsider staying clear of London.
Mr Khan said: ”The key thing I think we need to understand is that if we all stay at home working it’s a big problem for central London.
‘Many small businesses rely on your workers going to work, the café bars, the dry cleaners, the shoe repair shops and others.
Sadiq Khan boards a TFL tube train at Leicester Square Tube station while wearing a mask
‘When I meet those not just in the culture industry and hospitality, small businesses they are struggling.
‘Of course there’s a choice for you to make a big employer. I love London because of its eco-system. I don’t want a hollowed-out London. In City Hall we have made sure we have got everything ready, we’ve used July and August to make City Hall safe.
Mayor Khan made the comments talking to James O’Brien on radio station LBC.
It came after Transport for London slashed Tube and bus services to 15 per cent and 12 per cent respectively compared with normal levels and closed stations during lockdown.
He added: ‘What I would say to other big employers is that we are doing what we can to make sure London is a safe as it can be.
You have seen at TfL the enhanced cleaning regime we are doing, you have seen the testing we are doing, the hard work we’re doing to provide a record number of buses and tubes and other things in the context of a pandemic .’
A quiet Reuters Square in Canary Wharf as big business stay home and leave offices empty
Some streets in London are still deserted with smaller businesses suffering in lockdown
How many employees are top City firms bringing back to work?
Goldman Sachs: 900 out of 5,000 – 18%
RBS/ Natwest: 350 out of 3,500 – 10%
Amazon: 500 out of 5,000
Baker McKenzie 13 out of 1,000 1.3%
JP Morgan – 15%
Deloitte – 20%
Standard Chartered – 10%
KPMG – 5%
Deutsche Bank – 10%
London Stock Exchange – Handful of staff
Mr Khan had been at war with Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the coronavirus lockdown.
He issued statements seemingly at odds with Downing Street’s push to get the country moving again.
In one previous statement he said: ‘I want to be clear as possible with Londoners – social distancing measures are still in place.
‘Lockdown hasn’t been lifted and we all still need to play our part in stopping the spread of Covid-19.
‘You must still stay at home as much as possible and keep a safe two-metre distance from other people at all times when you are out.’
Commuters have previously reacted with outrage at the lack of safety measures in place, with exasperated tube users messaging Tfl on social media asking what are they going to do about the crowded carriages.
Chris Biggs, founder and managing director of Theta Financial Reporting, said in July he feared the working from home genie had now been let out of the bottle – and could not be put back.
He told the MailOnline: ‘I think it’s a bit of a watershed moment. From an employee’s point of view they might not feel safe going back into the office.
‘I have spoken to people from big firms who don’t want to go back. I know there are businesses that have said they are not going back until 2021 and I know some that will now have working from home permanently.
‘I don’t think management thought systems would work as well from home as they have. Now they know it’s possible. I know myself when I was commuting in previously it is packed and cramped – who will want to do that without a vaccine?’