Senior official says working from home has ‘no bearing’ on passport chaos

But Mr Rycroft took the unusual step of issuing a statement in defense of Dr Tierney on Thursday that could pit him against some ministers.

Mr Rycroft said: “This story totally ignores reality. Abi is an extremely talented leader, leading our world-class visa and passport operations. With sites spread across the UK, Abi works day in and day out with teams across the country providing vital services to the UK public.

“Abi’s workplace has had no impact on the current passport situation, which is largely the result of a drop in applications during the pandemic. Our teams are working hard to meet demand.

“We pride ourselves on spreading opportunity and talent across the country, moving away from the outdated notion that everything has to be done in London.”

Mr Rycroft, the Home Office’s top civil servant, earlier this month warned his boss Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, that the policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda lacked “sufficient evidence” to demonstrate the benefits of the program.

Home Office officials said Dr Tierney worked the ‘vast majority’ of his time in passport offices across the country, including in London and ‘occasionally’ at home, but would not publicly more precise.

“Working from London”

A source said Mr Rycroft was not supporting working from home but the right of civil servants ‘working out of London’. Asked if there was a risk of appearing to clash with Mr Rees-Mogg’s campaign, the source said: ‘Yes, potentially, but that’s clearly a debate that’s already going on at the government.”

The source pointed out that Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, had accused Mr Rees-Mogg of a ‘Dickensian’ approach by ‘measuring bodies behind desks’.

The Permanent Secretary to the Directorate for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has previously touted the virtues of working from home as it gives her more time on her exercise bike.

It happened when Dr Tierney called the boss of the French company behind the hotline chaos for a rug over his ‘unacceptable’ performance.

She demanded improvements from the boss of Paris-based Teleperformance over complaints of unanswered calls, delays of up to four hours responding to customers and failure to provide accurate information.

The company, which now employs hundreds of additional staff, has also been tasked with running helplines in much-criticized Ukrainian refugee programs, where there have been complaints that it has not was able to inform applicants about the status of their visa. application.

On Thursday, it emerged that only a fifth – around 11,100 – of the 51,300 Ukrainians granted visas under the Homes for Ukraine scheme had arrived in the UK. Some 16,000 of the 34,900 Ukrainians granted visas entered the UK.

Teleperformance did not respond to a request for comment.

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