The union, which represents 11,000 defence specialists across the public and private sector, says in its submission to the review that safeguarding jobs and skills should be the priority and that key capability gaps resulting from the 2010 SDSR need to be filled.
In particular ministers need to address the ageing demographic profile of the defence sector and competition from other high-value science and engineering sectors by supporting clear career paths and investing in training and long-term R&D.
Prospect says the decision to cancel Nimrod air surveillance has weakened the UK’s deterrence and that the government should award a contract for a marine patrol vessel to plug the gap, which would offer opportunities for UK manufacturers.
It has also called for a greater commitment to key defence projects to deliver a secure pipeline of work. These include the Type 26 frigate, only seven of which have so far been ordered to replace the ageing Type 23. A suitable number of next generation F35 fighter planes also need to be ordered to underpin credibility of the two new aircraft carriers and safeguard aerospace manufacturing facilities.
Prospect argues that in the five years since the last SDSR the defence and security outlook has continued to change and that civilian specialists are key to planning and shaping the UK’s response to threats that are more complex, diverse and rapidly-evolving than they’ve ever been.
“There is a lot of talk about a ‘whole force’ approach but we need to make it a reality,” says Prospect deputy general secretary Dai Hudd. “The changed nature of the threat requires a nimble, sophisticated response which increasingly focuses on areas such as cutting-edge data analytics, cyber defence, drones and other remote systems.”
However, previous reviews have prioritised the safeguarding of uniformed military at the expense of the civilian workforce. The official MoD Quarterly Civilian Personnel Statistics Report shows that the 2015 civilian workforce for the MoD main department and DE&S combined is at less than 75% of its strength in 2010.
The union’s submission also highlights the findings of 2010’s Grimstone Report which illustrated the relative efficiency of civilian staff: on average costing half that of their uniformed colleagues. It concluded that in the vast majority of circumstances there would be no case for putting military personnel into roles that could be carried out by civilians.
Read Prospect’s SDSR 2015 submission in full: https://library.prospect.org.uk//download/2015/01331
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