Grant Shapps yet to sit down with private contractor as flagship military recruitment overhaul delayed again
: CPL TIM HAMMOND/MOD
Ministers have failed to meet directly with the company responsible for Army employment for the last three years, despite a recruitment crisis engulfing the military.
Grant Shapps has yet to meet with Capita, the Army’s private recruitment contractor, since becoming Defence Secretary in September last year.
It comes after The Telegraph recently revealed that the Ministry of Defence’s flagship £1.4 billion tri-service recruitment scheme, billed as a “recruiting solution”, has been delayed again.
Currently, the Navy and the Air Force handle their own recruitment, while the Army’s is outsourced to Capita. However the Armed Forces Recruiting Programme (AFRP) was designed to provide a single scheme for the three forces.
The last minister to meet with Capita directly to discuss recruitment was James Heappey in 2020, despite the company missing British Army recruitment targets every year during the period.
Last month Capita gave evidence before the Commons defence select committee, where it revealed that it had only recruited 5,000 people of the 9,813 people it has been tasked with hiring this year.
Despite this, discussions are ongoing with Capita to extend its contract for a third time to 2027.
In response to a parliamentary question, Defence Minister Dr Andrew Murrison admitted that Mr Shapps has “not yet had the opportunity to meet with Capita to discuss Armed Forces recruitment”. Dr Murrison, who leads recruitment, has also not yet met with Capita.
However, he cautioned that defence ministers have regular updates on the matter and that senior principals within the British Army “regularly meet” with Capita representatives.
Luke Pollard, the shadow armed forces minister, said the failure to meet Capita was indicative of the Conservative’s “14 years of failure” in defence.
He told The Telegraph: “Despite not hitting their recruitment targets for our Army, Ministers have failed to meet with the company in charge of hiring soldiers.
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