‘Dis­grace­ful’ Capita fall­ing short on Army re­cruit­ment

MPS crit­i­cise out­sourcer as it hires just 7pc of an­nual con­tract for sol­diers in first three months of the year

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Jack Tor­rance

MPS HAVE branded Capita’s han­dling of a Bri­tish Army re­cruit­ment con­tract a “na­tional dis­grace” and called on the out­sourcer to hand the job back to the Govern­ment af­ter fig­ures showed it had hired just 7pc of its an­nual tar­get for non-com­mis­sioned sol­diers in the first quar­ter of the year.

The poor per­for­mance was re­vealed by the Mod’s Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Sir Mark Pof­fley at a hear­ing of the de­fence se­lect com­mit­tee this week and would im­ply Capita is on track to hit just 28pc of its an­nual tar­get for this year.

Con­ser­va­tive MP Mark Fran­cois, from the com­mit­tee, told The Sun­day

Tele­graph: “Capita’s dis­as­trous un­der­per­for­mance in re­cruit­ing sol­diers for the Army is a na­tional dis­grace.

“If it had any hon­our what­so­ever it would hand back the con­tract and al­low it to be taken on by some­one who is com­pe­tent to de­liver it.”

The fig­ures fol­low a warn­ing by the Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice, which mon­i­tors govern­ment spend­ing, that the Armed Forces face their big­gest staffing short­fall in more than a decade.

The 7pc re­lates to the pro­por­tion of the re­cruit­ment tar­get for non-of­fi­cer ranks and com­pares to 20pc for the Royal Navy and 48pc for the RAF, which have in-house re­cruiters.

Pressed by the com­mit­tee, Gen­eral Pof­fley ad­mit­ted Capita was on track to miss its tar­gets “by some mar­gin”. Capita was handed the 10-year deal in 2012.

Labour’s Ruth Smeeth, also a com­mit­tee mem­ber, said she had heard of in­stances of prospec­tive re­cruits wait­ing as long as 18 months af­ter ap­ply­ing to join to be in­vited to join the assess­ment process. She said: “We get told the rea­son why they’re strug­gling to re­cruit is be­cause of the na­ture of the econ­omy, that they’ve got com­pe­ti­tion for re­cruits, but that wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily be so if they were deal­ing with the peo­ple who ac­tu­ally want to serve.”

The crit­i­cism comes at a dif­fi­cult time for Capita, whose shares are down around 75pc over the past year af­ter it re­vealed a £512m an­nual loss and plans to raise £701m through a rights is­sue to shore up its bal­ance sheet in April.

The out­sourcer, whose op­er­a­tions range from back of­fice work for fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­pa­nies to com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­age­ment for the po­lice, has been at­tempt­ing, un­der the stew­ard­ship of new chief ex­ec­u­tive Jonathan Lewis, to es­cape the shadow of a num­ber of bun­gled con­tracts.

It was con­tro­ver­sially awarded a £500m MOD fire-and-res­cue con­tract in May de­spite in­ter­nal as­sess­ments that rated it at the high­est-level for risk of fi­nan­cial dis­tress.

A spokesman for Capita said: “We con­tinue to in­tro­duce im­prove­ments to the re­cruit­ment process, and we are con­fi­dent the changed ser­vice we are putting in place will de­liver bet­ter out­comes for can­di­dates and for the Army.”

An Army spokesman said: “The per­for­mance in Q1 re­flects the is­sues faced with the De­fence Re­cruit­ment Sys­tem that was in­tro­duced last year. These is­sues have now been fixed and as such per­for­mance has im­proved in Q2.

“We are cur­rently ac­tive on 25 op­er­a­tions in 30 coun­tries around the world and the Army has enough peo­ple to per­form its op­er­a­tional re­quire­ments that help keep Bri­tain safe.”

Con­ser­va­tive MP Mark Fran­cois said that Capita should hand back its Army re­cruit­ment con­tract

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