Staff sacked while MOD splurges on kit

The MOD's priorities appear odd: it's axing 22,000 staff while £6bn worth of taxpayer funded equipment lies around unused, according to new figures from The National Audit Office (NAO).

Billions of pounds have been spent on surplus army clothes, military parts and fuel. Worse, the taxpayer is now shelling out cash for unused kit to be stored.

Mixed messages

The MOD has pointed the finger of blame firmly at over-ordering from previous years. But the over-ordering is an embarrassment at a time when the MOD is haemorrhaging staff, not to mention trimming MOD pensions, some allege, from frontline, battle-scarred staff.

"The challenge of managing and maintaining vast amounts of equipment, including explosive materials, around the world should not be underestimated," said Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff in an emailed statement.

"But I know," Luff went on, "that the MOD's assets must be more efficiently managed. That is why we are undertaking a number of initiatives to address this long-standing issue. We are changing the way we buy, store and dispose of equipment stocks and investing in IT systems to help us record the hundreds of thousands of items in our inventory."

Accounting basics

Earlier this year the Public Accounts Committee said cancelling the Nimrod aircraft resulted "in £3.4 billion of taxpayers' money being wasted and delaying the Astute submarines has increased the cost to the taxpayer by almost £2 billion."

Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, went on to say she believed the MOD had little idea of how it could balance even basic expenditure for 2012.

"We are also concerned that the Department remains unable to set out openly the extent of the gap between its income and expenditure, and how and by when it will balance this year's budget."

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