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Monday, October 18, 2021

‘Shambolic’ MoD spends twice as much on land as it does on nuclear deterrent

The Ministry of Defence spends twice as much maintaining its land as on the nuclear deterrent – but does not know on what, the Commons public accounts committee has found.

A third of the MoD estate, made up of training areas and accommodation, is in an “unacceptable condition”, according to a report by the committee.

The MPs say the MoD has repeatedly “missed by miles” the numerous targets it has set itself and spent £4.6 billion on estate management in 2019-20, double the annual cost of the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

In a report released on Tuesday, the PAC says it will not be until 2025 that the MoD can claim to have reached a “competent” level of asset management, failures which “continue to harm the well-being of service personnel”.

The defence estate covers 1.5 per cent of the UK and is valued at £36 billion.

The PAC accepted the MoD had ended its 10-year management contract with Capita in 2019, five years early, as the contractor was “not delivering expected benefits”.  

In evidence to the committee, David Williams, the MoD’s permanent secretary, said the assumed savings and benefits from outsourcing work had been “substantially off track”.

However, sacking Capita had “created a skills and capabilities gap which the [MoD] is seeking to fill by building in-house capabilities, although it currently remains reliant on contractors” the report noted.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), established by the MoD a decade ago to address problems, had taken “five to six years to understand what we have and the condition it is in”, according to Graham Dalton, the department head .

Questioning Mr Dalton for the report, Mark Francois, a committee member, excoriated the DIO for years of dithering and mismanagement.

“It has taken you seven years to have a booking system for some of your accommodation that still is not in service.

“Which of these three best describes this overall? Is it a shambles, a total shambles or a complete and utter shambles? Is it A, B or C?”

Mr Dalton declined to answer the “rhetorical question” but agreed the situation could be improved.

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