EMPLOYERS in the South West should do more to allow office staff to work from home, unions say.

A report released today by the Office of National Statistics shows the South West is the region with the highest home working rate in England (17.1%), but the South West TUC believes it gives an unrealistic picture because the figures include farmers and those aged 65 and over.

Nigel Costley, the South West TUC's Regional Secretary, said: "Improvements in home technology have made home-working an attractive and cheap alternative to costly commutes into the office.

“Home-working also helps those unable to travel – including disabled people or those with caring responsibilities – to stay in work and continue their careers.

“But too many bosses still don’t trust staff to work from home and instead force them to trudge into the office so they can keep an eye on them. Employers’ attitudes to new working practices must change to make a much better use of modern technology in all workplaces.”

The report from the Office of National Statistics shows two of the top five local authority areas for home working are in the South West: West Somerset (where 25.7% of people use their home for work) is top and West Devon (21.2%) is fifth. The top role carried out by home workers is farming, and the top age group is 65 and over.