In a report released today, Wednesday 15 July 2020, the Public Accounts Committee highlights the Ministry of Defence’s continued “lamentable failure” to “get a grip” and deliver on key defence capabilities needed by the UK’s Armed Forces.
Despite PAC and NAO warnings “year after year” the MoD still hasn’t established a stable basis for making an affordable military Equipment Plan, or a realistic approach to delivering efficiency savings.
The MoD admits it has encouraged a culture that prioritises hitting internal targets above delivering defence capability, with a short-term focus on managing annual financial pressures that reduces the UK’s military capabilities yet further, while increasing overall costs.
Echoing its recent report on failures in the MoD’s nuclear defence programme, the Committee urges the MoD and HM Treasury to consider moving to a system of managing strategic programmes on a multi-year basis – with the MoD to demonstrate “why it should be trusted” with this new approach as it is rolled out. Together the MoD and HMT should report to the Committee on the development of this new strategy by the end of the year.
Covid-19 has worsened existing concerns about the financial resilience of some defence equipment suppliers with the potential to worsen the already lengthy delays to the delivery of many key capabilities.
Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
“The MoD knows what it’s getting wrong. We know what it’s getting wrong. For years we have made concrete proposals to improve delivery of key strategic priorities and here we are again, with the same gaps in our national defence and the same risk to our armed forces personnel, year after year.
“We are saying to the MoD and to the Treasury now: come back to us by the end of the year with a concrete plan for how you are going to turn this around, how you are going to do this differently, from now on. The nation and the armed forces that protect us are owed that much.”