Scope of the inquiry
The Armed Forces (the Army, the Royal Navy, and the RAF) had 137,300 trained regular personnel in January 2018. This is 8,200 fewer than their requirement, and suggests the largest shortfall in numbers in recent years.
Over a quarter of the of the Department’s defence budget is spent on personnel. This is expected to increase at the same time as the Department needs to find £8.1 billion in savings by 2027. A recent National Audit Office report found the Armed Forces face skill shortages in important professionals such as pilots, engineers and intelligence analysts. Further, with the nature of warfare changing rapidly, the NAO reported that the Department faces an even bigger challenge in the future.
The Ministry of Defence is currently changing its workforce policies to help drive recruitment and keep Forces in post. However, there is little evidence so far that recruitment and retention in the Armed Forces has increased as a result.
We will ask representatives from the Ministry of Defence about their understanding of current and future skills gaps, how they will ensure the UK has the Armed Forces it needs at a time of budgetary pressure, and when we can expect to see recruitment and retention of Armed Forces improve.