DAERA Ballykelly: Staff Complement

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 21st June 2021.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 3:00 pm, 21st June 2021

I suggest that DAERA was probably the most flexible Department in dealing with COVID and in identifying means for people to work from home. We have a lot of experience because we had Ballykelly, Klondyke, Dundonald House and a whole series of buildings where we had digital communication already in place. We were very quick to ensure that people had the equipment to allow them to work from home. With the double vaccination, people are working in bars, restaurants, schools and other places, so getting people back into the Civil Service workplace should be happening. That was raised at the last Executive meeting, and the Civil Service is working closely and in conjunction with what is happening in Whitehall.

It is time for a lot of people to come back to the offices again. Working from home has worked to an extent, and there will be a lot of opportunities to work from home, which will be good for reducing our requirement for office buildings and reducing the cost of travel and the impact on the environment. Nonetheless, we need to ensure that we are getting maximum efficiency from our civil servants, and if that involves them coming into work, that is what should happen as opposed to working from home in circumstances where the impact is negative.