Dai Hudd, the union’s deputy general secretary, said: “Our membership includes thousands of civilian specialists who are key to delivering the sort of ambitious equipment programmes which have been announced in today’s defence review.
“The last review in 2010 cut civilians to the bone, so today’s news of a 30% headcount reduction on top of that is devastating news, not just for jobs and skills but also for the UK’s ability to deliver the capabilities it needs on time and on budget.
“It seems perverse that following the recent leak revealing George Osborne’s belief that the MoD does not have the skills to manage the Trident successor programme, ministers should seek to further de-skill the department. Plans to do so should be fiercely scrutinised.”
Prospect has calculated that among the 3,160 civilian jobs likely to be lost at MoD trading entity Defence Equipment & Support, the following would be vulnerable: almost 700 scientists and engineers, more than 700 working in programme and project management, around 220 in procurement, and in excess of 1,100 in operational delivery (including safety and security management roles).
Prospect emphasised in its submission to the SDSR that civilians represent excellent value for money – costing half that of their uniformed counterparts on a like-for-like basis.
However, while this fell on deaf ears, the union has welcomed the plugging of key capability gaps created by the last review, as well as the commitment to more flexible, intelligence-led forces to address the rise of non-state actors such as Islamic State.
Hudd added: “In our submission we made it very clear that the number of first-tranche F35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft needed to be increased to create a credible carrier threat. Likewise we highlighted the vulnerabilities that arose from the cancellation of Nimrod maritime reconnaissance aircraft. We are pleased to see that both these issues have been addressed.”
While also welcoming the government’s continued commitment to replacing Trident – which will help to sustain thousands of skilled jobs in the years to come – Prospect was disappointed that a greater commitment was not made to shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde, with the order for next-generation Type 26 frigates being reduced from 13 to eight.
· Prospect represents 11,000 defence specialists across the public and private sector
· Read Prospect’s submission to the 2015 SDSR: https://library.prospect.org.uk//download/2015/01331