Giving evidence at the defence select committee today (Monday 12 July) Unite, the UK’s leading union, will warn that the ongoing outsourcing of civilian functions at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is leading to cuts in pay, a deterioration in standards, severe reductions in service levels and increases in safety risks.

Extreme outsourcing

Unite will also explain how the outsourcing of services frequently creates a two tier workforce, with new starters recruited on vastly inferior terms and conditions from workers who were TUPEd over on MoD contracts.

Unite will further highlight how supposed efficiency savings are either illusory or potentially dangerous and how the fragmentation of services can lead to operational inefficiencies.

Unite will particularly focus on problems with the MoD fire service contract which has been outsourced to Capita.

Fire service cuts

The MoD fire service, which undertakes fire security at 30 defence bases and 20 RAF bases, transferred to Capita last year. Capita immediately undertook risk assessments aimed at reducing personnel levels. The service has lost, or is about to lose, 100 personnel and it is expected a further 100-200 firefighter roles will be lost in the next 12-18 months.

As a result of the changes to personnel, the MoD bases are increasingly reliant on local fire services for fire cover. Due to the geographic nature of the bases, this is often via a retained fire station.

Safety concerns 

Unite will highlight the serious safety implications of the contract agreed between the MoD and Capita. Under a share gain policy, both Capita and the MoD each receive 47.5 per cent of any cost savings with the service receiving just 5 per cent.

Unite believes that cuts in service are usually focussed on the cost saving advantage rather than the potential safety implications

Addicted to outsourcing

Unite national officer for the Ministry of Defence Caren Evans said: “The MoD’s addiction to outsourcing is a disaster for the workers involved and service levels.

“Unite believes that in most cases the supposed cost savings are illusory, as outsourcers are able to add in many extra charges for items not included in the original contract.

 “Capita’s cuts in staffing levels on the MoD fire service are potentially dangerous and are an accident waiting to happen.

 “It is even more alarming that decisions on personnel and safety levels are now based more on boosting profits than ensuring a safe, efficient and reliable emergency services is fully functioning."


Notes to editors:

 MoD firefighters privatisation branded a ‘costly shambles’

 ESS labelled UK’s most heartless employer over sign or be sacked policy, as Parliament prepares to debate cruel practices

 During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.