Capita is failing to bring in the recruits the Army needs

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MPs expressed fury as the Ministry of Defence said the outsourcing giant has ‘clearly underperformed’.

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Outsourcing giant Capita managed to bring in fewer than one in 10 of the recruits the Army needs for 2018-19 in the first quarter of the year, the Ministry of Defence has disclosed.

Giving evidence to the Commons Defence Committee, the Permanent Secretary at the MoD Stephen Lovegrove acknowledged Capita, which has had the contract for Army recruiting since 2012, had “underperformed”.

The disclosure drew an angry response from MPs on the committee who warned the service was “withering on the vine” and called for the contractor to be sacked.

MoD report
Signage for the Ministry of Defence (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff, Sir Mark Poffley, said that in the three months to August, the Army had recruited just 10% of the officer recruits and 7% of the other ranks it needed for 2018-19.

That compared with recruitment 22% of the officers and 20% of other ranks for the Royal Navy, 100% of officers and 10% of other ranks for the Royal Marines, and 56% of officers and 48% of other ranks for the RAF.

Tory MP Mark Francois said, since Capita was controversially awarded the contract for Army recruitment, it had consistently failed to meet its targets and branded the situation a “farce”.


“The whole of the department knows Capita are a disaster. They know nothing about recruitment. How badly do you have to fail before you get sacked by your department?” he demanded.

“The Army is withering on the vine because it is being starved of recruits because these people haven’t got a clue what they are doing.

“The Army is a basket case. This is affecting our ability to fight.”

Mr Lovegrove acknowledged Capita had “clearly underperformed” but said the problems with Army recruitment went beyond the contractor.


“Employment in the nation generally is fairly buoyant.

“That is not for recruitment, certainly to other ranks in the Army, a particularly propitious backdrop,” he said.

He added: “A lot has been done with Capita.

“I don’t think it would be reasonable to expect instant results from a big supertanker such as Army recruitment.”

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