‘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
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