Opinion Former Article

PCS: More cuts to defence posts will damage frontline support

Further cuts to civilian staff in the Ministry of Defence will damage the support available to frontline troops, the Public and Commercial Services union warns.

While refusing to give details, defence secretary Liam Fox has today (13 August) repeated plans to slash staff numbers in the MoD under the strategic defence and security review.

The union says that, with civilian numbers already cut by 22% over the last six years when troops have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the MoD is at breaking point.

Since the last defence spending review in 1998, military posts have increased by 4.7%, while civilian posts have been reduced by 35%.

The union believes there is a genuine need for the unique experience and specialist knowledge military personnel bring to some non-military roles. However, not all military-held posts demand military expertise and the department should increase the use of civilian workers in non-deployable posts to ensure frontline support is maintained but at a much cheaper cost.

There are also examples of waste across the MoD which could be tackled, including £150 million a year spent on consultants and the growing costs of defence private finance initiatives, forecast to consume £1.5 billion of the defence budget this year on contracts of up to 40 years.

PCS deputy general secretary Hugh Lanning said: "At the same time as handing millions of pounds to consultants and private companies, Mr Fox announces plans to cut the jobs of loyal and hard-working staff.

"This will not only damage the support available to frontline troops but also hit communities, particularly those where the MoD is by far the biggest employer.

"There are alternatives to these spending cuts. By not replacing Trident for example, the department could save itself billions of pounds."

ENDS

Notes

- For information and interview requests, contact PCS national press officer Richard Simcox on 020 7801 2747 or 07833 978216

- The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has more than 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies. It also represents workers in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK's fifth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich

- Follow PCS on twitter.com

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