Ministry of Defence 'wasting billions on unnecessary equipment'
BILLIONS of pounds are being wasted by the Ministry of Defence on equipment it does not need, while Plymouth sailors and ships are axed to save cash, says a spending watchdog.
A city MP has called on the Defence Secretary to "get a grip" on the long-standing problem, after a damning parliamentary report found the department was "wasting significant amounts of public money" on buying and stockpiling excess kit and supplies.
The powerful Public Accounts Committee revealed that between 2009 and 2011, the MoD bought well over a third more stock – like uniforms and ammunition – than it used at a cost of £1.5 billion.
And it did not always dispose of items it no longer needed or did not use regularly.
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The MPs found more than £4.2billion worth of supplies had not moved for at least two years, and that a further £2.4 billion of items were already held in sufficient quantities to last for the next five years.
It comes amid the biggest round of cuts to the military since the end of the Cold War, which has seen Plymouth Navy personnel lose their jobs and all four Devonport-based Type 22s have also been scrapped. One of Plymouth's amphibious assault ship has also been mothballed.
The select committee said the purchase of inventory had outstripped demand over a number of years, leading to a substantial increase in the amount of stock held by the department, which has been valued at £40.3 billion.
The MPs has called on the department to sell off supplies with a total value of £3.4 billion which it had identified as appropriate for disposal. The massive stockpile had grown up despite warnings as far back as 1991 by spending watchdog the National Audit Office of the need for action.
The MPs said they were "disappointed" that the MoD had failed to act over the past 20 years and "surprised" that it had only recently developed a strategy to tackle the problem.
Tory MP for South West Devon Gary Streeter said: "Then MoD has a long history of procuring badly and wasting money, and it's disappointing to learn that this is still going on.
"It's now important the Secretary of State gets a grip on this."
Committee member Richard Bacon said: "It is unacceptable that the Ministry of Defence is wasting significant amounts of public money buying equipment and supplies that it doesn't need."