Prospect response to defence white paper

Prospect says off-shore no solution to defence woes

Prospect, the union for over 16,000 civilian defence specialists has warned that the Ministry of Defence’s White Paper: National Security Through Technology peddles the myth that cuts to the public sector will generate economic growth in the private sector.


Deputy General Secretary Mike Clancy said MOD’s new defence industrial and technology strategy papers over the cracks in the UK defence industry and will do nothing to arrest the decline in defence jobs and skills across the UK.

“MOD says it will seek to fulfil UK defence requirements by open competition and by procuring equipment off-the-shelf. It is an off-shore solution to a home-grown problem. Does it really represent value for money? What about maintenance, upgrades and spare parts, what about emergency deployments? The UK still needs its own defence manufacturing base. Exports will be hit as well: why would foreign governments buy UK companies’ equipment if our own MOD has rejected it?

“The idea in the White Paper that the UK will retain freedom of action and will sustain the necessary people, skills and infrastructure is MOD facing both ways and tearing itself in two,” said Clancy. “The White Paper is waffle seeking to justify the cuts that are already destroying the UK’s capability. Thousands of highly skilled jobs have already been lost in the very areas that the UK need to bolster and to grow the economy.”

The reality is that MOD has shed 10,000 civilian specialists in the last year and must cut a further 15,000 by 2015. These are the very people it needs to maintain its role as an intelligent customer to industry and to provide support to the armed forces.

Clancy said the civilian specialists with their knowledge, skills and experience were what made MOD tick and their loss would leave the department paralysed as a result.

MOD’s research budget has already been cut by 20 per cent over recent years, which has had a direct affect on private industry. For instance at BAE, which has announced thousands of redundancies in the last two years and had just lost an crucial contract to supply £7bn worth of Typhoon Eurofighters to India.

QinetiQ, the private sector defence research company has also suffered significant cuts to staff and its work programme as MOD generated work has contracted.