Covid home-working speeds up council site sales prospects in Leeds

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The Leonardo BuildingImage source, Google
Image caption,
Several city centre sites had been earmarked for sale by Leeds City Council

The popularity of home working during the Covid-19 pandemic could see a council selling more of its buildings quicker than planned, an official said.

Martin Farrington, director of city development, said home working had "become a necessity on a very significant scale" due to the pandemic.

Previously 800 staff worked at home but that figure is now 8,000, he said.

In a report to the council, Mr Farrington said fewer workers in offices could result in the authority being able to sell more of its buildings to generate extra cash.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service said he told a council committee a survey of staff during the pandemic revealed "52% would like to work from home most or all of the time".

Mr Farrington said home working for council employees had been accelerated due to the pandemic.

"We had gradually increased working from home over the years, but during the pandemic, it has become a necessity on a very significant scale.

"The level of home working post-pandemic is going to increase, but it is important that we pick up on those aspects."

A report which went before councillors in January 2020, claimed the authority expected to raise about £95m by selling dozens of sites across the city between 2019 and 2022.

Some buildings will be auctioned off in October, December and February 2021.

A separate report set to go before councillors later believes about 50% of council-run offices are also likely to be sold off in the coming years.

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