Home working leads to ‘lack of creativity’, warns Chancellor Jeremy Hunt

 (PA)
(PA)

The Chancellor has warned permanent working from home could lead to a “lack of creativity” in industry.

Jeremy Hunt said it was for businesses “to find their own way” but added that companies would miss out on “water cooler moments” if employees continued to stay away from office after the pandemic.

Speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce conference in London on Wednesday, he said: “There are some very exciting opportunities created by the fact that we’ve all learned to use Zoom in teams for meetings.

“On the other hand, there is nothing like sitting around the table, seeing people face to face developing team spirit - and I worry about the loss of creativity.

“When people are permanently working from home and not having those water cooler moments where they bounce ideas off each other.”

Mr Hunt also defended his handling of the economy, saying there was “nothing automatic” about controlling inflation and controlling the cost of living crisis.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt speaking during the British Chambers Commerce Annual Global conference, at the QEII Centre, London (PA)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt speaking during the British Chambers Commerce Annual Global conference, at the QEII Centre, London (PA)

“There’s a plan, we are going to stick to it,” he said.

“The Bank of England has a role through monetary policy and interest rates, we support them 150 per cent with that.

“But we have our role in government, what I do on the fiscal side in terms of tax and spend has an influence and if markets judge that we are not getting our borrowing under control they will punish us with higher interest rates.”

Independent forecasters believe the Government is on track to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s target of halving inflation by the end of the year, he added.

The Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey and Sir Keir Starmer were also addressing the conference on Wednesday.

The Labour leader laid out “five shifts” a Government under his leadership would impose.

“I want to set out five key economic shifts that will underpin our mission for growth,” he was due to say.

“The building blocks of our strategy to lead Britain out of its low growth, high tax, doom-loop.”

They included a reformed planning system and investment in science, technology and “green growth”.

Sir Keir also called for the British economy to “become more resilient to global shocks” and to “fix the Brexit deal”.

It comes as Mr Sunak was facing demands to renegotiate the UK’s Brexit deal amid warnings the British car industry faces an “existential threat” without changes, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Vauxhall’s parent company Stellantis, which employs more than 5,000 people in the UK, told MPs it will be unable to keep a commitment to make electric vehicles in the UK without changes to the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) with the European Union.

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch has raised the issue with Brussels, the Government said.

She has a meeting with Stellantis chiefs on Wednesday and has raised the motor industry’s concerns about the TCA with Mr Hunt and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.

Roads Minister Richard Holden hinted that the Brexit deal could be changed.

“I’m sure that there are further tweaks that could be made,” he told if more work needs to be done, I’m absolutely certain that the Business and Trade Secretary will do that over the coming days and weeks.”