Spending watchdog delivers condemning report on "risky" Army restructuring amid plans to recruit thousands more trained reservists

National Audit Office has analysed further Coalition plans to reduce the number of regular personnel from 102,000 to 82,000

The spending watchdog has released its critical assessment of governmental plans to overhaul the Army, warning that the Ministry of Defence needs a "significant change in performance."

The National Audit Office’s (NAO) delayed report has taken the MoD to task for its plans to raise the number of trained army reservists from 19,000 to 30,000, while reducing regular Army personnel by 20,000.

It said that plans to re-mould the Army come with "significant risks" that could "significantly affect the Army's ability to achieve its objectives and value for money," potentially costing the taxpayer a lot more than anticipated.

Dubbed ‘Army 2020’ by the MoD, the makeover will see the both regulars and reserves integrated for the first time, with the latter used more routinely than in just special circumstances.

The NAO’s analysis, which was due to be published yesterday but was hindered by last-minute clashes over discrepancies, said it would “examine the robustness of the Ministry of Defence’s plans to develop a smaller, more flexible Army.”

The watchdog today warned that the MoD's timeline for the project is off-track, possibly running up to six years behind schedule, amid concerns that its recruitment drive for reserves is well below par.

It said that the decision to almost double the number of trained reserves had been "taken without appropriate testing of feasbility."

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: "The Department and Army must get a better understanding of significant risks to Army 2020 - notably, the extent to which it is dependent on other major programmes and the risk that the shortfall in recruitment of new reserves will up the pressure on regular units."

IT problems have plagued the project, the report said, after software supposed to help external recruiter Capita had failed to be ready in time for its March 2013 launch date. It will not be ready until summer 2015.

Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Commons public accounts committee, lambasted the "scandalous" increased £1million-a-month operational cost that the MoD is having to deal with in the meantime.

"The MoD went ahead with plans to reduce the number of regular soldiers and increase the number of reservists from 19,000 to 30,000 by 2019 without even investigating whether it was possible to do this by that time, or even whether it had 19,000 trained reservists to start with.

"Given this, it comes as no surprise to me that just one third of the reservists have been recruited in 2013-14 and the size of the Army Reserve has not increased since 2012.

"The MoD's recruitment contract has been plagued by unreliable data and failure by the department to provide the necessary IT infrastructure.

"Even after all this, I am astounded to find that reducing the size of the Army will not alone deliver the financial savings required for the MoD budget. Unbelievably, it may even mean increased costs to the Treasury if the reservists are deployed."

The Army’s restructuring will see the core base of regular personnel dwindle from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2018.

The findings come as its also revealed that the Major Projects Authority has issued concerns that the plan to recruit another 11,000 reservists should be considered a precarious one alongside HS2 and Universal Credit.

Additional reporting by agencies

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea