Rishi Sunak’s Treasury admits holding ‘office drinks’ during lockdown

Chancellor denies attending any drinks receptions during lockdown

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Saturday 11 December 2021 09:52
Comments
<p>Rishi Sunak has said he was not at the drinks party </p>

Rishi Sunak has said he was not at the drinks party

Officials at Rishi Sunak's Treasury have admitted holding "drinks" in their office while the country was in lockdown last year.

Around two dozen civil servants broke out the booze at their desks on November 25, 2020 – the day of the autumn statement.

The chancellor last week denied attending any drinks parties – though he declined to give an answer about what his advisors and officials had got up to.

It comes after more than a week of anger over a bash at No.10 at the height of lockdown.

The event's Treasury counterpart took place when non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues were closed.

Pubs, bars and restaurants has also been shuttered, and people were told to stay at home unless they could not work from home.

It is not clear why the Treasury civil servants felt they their work could not be done remotely.

A Treasury spokesperson claimed to the Independent that the department "has followed Government guidance throughout the pandemic".

They added: "We are not aware of any events in breach of Government regulations and the Treasury did not organise an in-person departmental party last Christmas.”

But separately, regarding the incident in November, they confirmed to The Times: "In line with the guidance at the time, a number of staff came into the office to work on the Spending Review 2020.

"We have been made aware that a small number of those staff had impromptu drinks around their desks after the event."

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