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Outsourcing and treatment of contracted staff – Ministry of Defence ‘must do better’, says Defence Committee

26 May 2022

The Ministry of Defence’s outsourcing practice of ancillary services, such as firefighting and vehicle maintenance, is ‘not exemplary’ and the MoD pays little consideration to providing services in-house, says the cross-party Defence Committee in a report published today.

The report states that “contractors drop standards and squeeze employees to raise their profit margin” but warns that the MoD is not always willing to step in and enforce expected standards.

With reference to the performance of contractors including Capita, the report says it is “absurd” the MoD is not allowed to look at contractor’s previous performance in deciding on contract awards. The report recommends the Government remedy this situation before the end of the current Parliament.

The Committee’s report focusses on the Defence Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) as a case study to examine the wider implications and lessons of MoD outsourcing. The report raises concerns over Capita’s involvement in DFRS, their wider record, and questions the approach to manning levels. The report calls on the Ministry of Defence to review Capita’s performance and consider measures to ensure the DRFS is carried out more satisfactorily.

Member's comment

Rt Hon Mark Francois, Member of the Defence Committee, said: “The performance of certain sub-contractors is well-known both within industry and the defence community. Given the MoD’s determination to press ahead with outsourcing ancillary services, it is an absurd state of affairs that it is not possible to take into account a bidder’s past performance. Ministers should use the Procurement Bill announced in the Queen's speech to change the rules for awarding new contracts”.

The report examines the treatment of outsourced staff, including in their terms and conditions of employment. The report expresses regret that sub-contracted staff often feel excluded from the wider defence family even though their roles are integral to the service.

The Committee’s report recommends the Ministry of Defence act to ensure that contracted staff receive comparable employment contracts to staff directly employed by the MoD. The MoD should also ensure that this is a standard part of the process when considering bids for contracts.

Further information


Image credit: Ministry of Defence