MoD to pay £14,000 to a contractor for every new soldier

October 13, 2011 5:54 PM

Thomas Harding at the Daily Telegraph reports that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is proposing to outsource Army recruitment to a civilian company in a deal worth £1 billion over 10 years. At a cost of nearly £14,000 for each soldier recruited, the contract will offer generous returns for the company that wins the bid, especially while there are over 2.5 million people unemployed in the UK. The RAF and Royal Navy are also believed to be developing similar plans.

Over the next three years the MoD intends to make 12,000 soldiers redundant while recruiting 7,500 a year through the external agency. That means that in three years we will have recruited nearly twice as many people as are being made redundant.

The MoD needs to be careful to avoid the double cost of paying redundancy costs and paying to recruit new soldiers at the same time. Is there no way those being made redundant couldn’t be retrained for the new roles? They need to explain why it isn’t possible to save money in both redundancy and recruitment whilst keeping the experience of older soldiers and the supply of new soldiers for the future. There are limits, and we certainly wouldn’t want to see the absurdities of the “surplus” scheme they have in the Royal Mail, but all we have at the moment is the simple claim from an Army source that they “still have to recruit”.

The MoD argues this deal will save £250 million over a ten year period but Air Commodore Andrew Lambert, of the UK National Defence Association, has questioned the savings, and the Telegraph reports that serving officers have described the decision as “perverse”.



With just under half of the 17,000 new entrants each year who go through training for the Army failing to finish the course, there is plenty of room for more efficiency in the recruitment and training system. It seems like common sense that having people on hand who have experienced Army life will lead to better recruitment outcomes. But civilian involvement might be a good thing if they can take some of the administrative burden off the shoulders of soldiers.  And recruiting firms in the private sector might have new ideas about how best to reach good candidates.

Just like with PFI, the problem here isn’t the principle of involving the private sector. But the price and the objective needs to be right, otherwise soldiers and taxpayers will wonder whether they are getting a very bad deal.Thomas Harding at the Daily Telegraph reports that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is proposing to outsource Army recruitment to a civilian company in a deal worth £1 billion over 10 years. At a cost of nearly £14,000 for each soldier recruited, the contract will offer generous returns for the company that wins the bid, especially while there are over 2.5 million people unemployed in the UK. The RAF and Royal Navy are also believed to be developing similar plans.

Over the next three years the MoD intends to make 12,000 soldiers redundant while recruiting 7,500 a year through the external agency. That means that in three years we will have recruited nearly twice as many people as are being made redundant.

The MoD needs to be careful to avoid the double cost of paying redundancy costs and paying to recruit new soldiers at the same time. Is there no way those being made redundant couldn’t be retrained for the new roles? They need to explain why it isn’t possible to save money in both redundancy and recruitment whilst keeping the experience of older soldiers and the supply of new soldiers for the future. There are limits, and we certainly wouldn’t want to see the absurdities of the “surplus” scheme they have in the Royal Mail, but all we have at the moment is the simple claim from an Army source that they “still have to recruit”.

The MoD argues this deal will save £250 million over a ten year period but Air Commodore Andrew Lambert, of the UK National Defence Association, has questioned the savings, and the Telegraph reports that serving officers have described the decision as “perverse”.



With just under half of the 17,000 new entrants each year who go through training for the Army failing to finish the course, there is plenty of room for more efficiency in the recruitment and training system. It seems like common sense that having people on hand who have experienced Army life will lead to better recruitment outcomes. But civilian involvement might be a good thing if they can take some of the administrative burden off the shoulders of soldiers.  And recruiting firms in the private sector might have new ideas about how best to reach good candidates.

Just like with PFI, the problem here isn’t the principle of involving the private sector. But the price and the objective needs to be right, otherwise soldiers and taxpayers will wonder whether they are getting a very bad deal.

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