Responding to the House of Commons Defence Select Committee report into MOD’s annual report 2010-11, Prospect national secretary, Steve Jary said: “There are lots of criticisms that can be made of MOD’s mismanagement of its cuts programme. But the select committee has got this one horribly wrong. The committee is fatally misinformed.
“The truth is that cuts to civilian specialists in the department far outnumber cuts to the armed forces. Over 10,000 civilians left MOD last year and it plans to cut another 10,000 in 2012. The department is already struggling to cope with its day-to-day business, and come the summer, will face a moment of truth. Will it take another Nimrod disaster for the department to pause and take stock of what it is doing? Prospect believes this is a disaster waiting to happen.
“MOD is driving off a cliff, looking over its shoulder at a pack baying for civil service blood. Our members have had enough. Morale could not be lower,” said Jary.
“It is cutting the very people it needs to maintain its role as an intelligent customer and to provide support to our hard-pressed armed forces. It just doesn’t make sense. The armed forces needs both the skills and specialisms of those in the civil service coupled with the military capacity provided by our soldiers.”
The union says the select committee should not blame civil servants for the government’s decision to reduce the size of the army. Military personnel may be demoralised, but so are loyal civil servants who have faced regular and unfair criticism from ministers and the media despite the important work they do to support the armed forces.
Jary said MOD civilians want to quit. In a survey of Prospect members a few months ago, 82% of MOD specialists said they would leave the department tomorrow if they could afford to. This is a direct result of the vilification of them over recent years.
“Indiscriminate cuts include work that the MOD still requires. Our members know they can return as consultants, earning at least twice as much. The government values their skills more as consultants than it does when it insults them as ‘pen-pushers,’” said Jary.
Prospect says it is not the case that all civilian redundancies will be handled voluntarily. MOD is consulting now on compulsory redundancies at RAF bases scheduled to close. There is no agreement between MOD and the unions that there will be no compulsory redundancies, despite union efforts to secure one.
- the cuts to the MOD civil service are over three times as severe as the cuts to the military
- the MOD civil service is planned to reduce by 32,000 (40%) by 2020, with the bulk of those cuts by March 2014
- the cuts in armed forces are planned to be just over 10%
- in 2015 the MOD civil service will number just 55,000. In April 1997 it was 118,000 strong.