Francis Maude, the minister at the heart of the fuel crisis, is behind government plans for bankers to be allowed to work from home during the Olympics, it emerged last night.
During specially convened "Olympics Cabinet" meetings, the Cabinet Office minister has enthusiastically backed an initiative for large firms based at Canary Wharf to let their staff work remotely, to ease congestion in east London.
Canary Wharf's stations are expected to among the busiest throughout the two weeks of the Games as ticketholders travel to the Olympic Park.
Mr Maude, whose advice that people should stockpile petrol in "jerry cans" has led to calls for him to resign, is keen to encourage more working from home across the economy. Civil servants are also expected to be told to stay at home during the Games. The accountancy firm KPMG, with headquarters in Canary Wharf, is believed to be one of the companies that have agreed in principle to Mr Maude's proposal. A spokesman for KPMG said: “During the Olympics we are certainly expecting more people than usual to work from home or from offices outside of London.”
The Canary Wharf Group, the company behind the skyscrapers, will announce an initiative, backed by the accountancy firm Deloitte, for firms to test their readiness for the Games on 8 and 9 May; the tests will include flexible working. The Financial Services Authority has given its blessing to the proposal, so it can be expected that many of the big companies in the Square Mile and Canary Wharf will take part in the test.