On Excercise

A recent edition of DefenceFocus featured an interview with Jon Thompson, MoD Director General of Finance, who oversees the MoD’s £35 billion budget. Within the interview he exposes some of the myths portrayed in the media:

DF:  How much media coverage about the MoD’s coffers is true?
JT: Some of it is not accurate. It’s difficult to pin down a percentage.  There was a most interesting front-page in a national daily newspaper recently when I was with my father-in-law.  He said: “Look at that, it’s terrible!”  I told him that is was completely made-up.  I attempted to tell him the real situation and he said: “I didn’t know that.”  “No,”  I replied, “That’s because it’s not reported in the media.”  Some of it is on the verge of being made up, some of it is poorly informed and some is true.

DF:  Will the recession put more civilian jobs at risk in 2010?
JT: Not next year, no.  In 2010/11, we know what our funding is, which was settled in the spending review in 2007.  The debating years are from 2011/12 and beyond when a new government will decide about funding for all departments, not just MoD.  There are very different views between the political parties about the funding of public services and tackling public sector deficit.  Therefore it is very hard to say because it very much depends on who wins the election and what approach they take.

DF:  The press claim that Forces’ kit is out-of-date by the time it enters service.  Is this fair?
JT: No. We strive to provide the best equipment that we can, with the budget we have got.  Yes, it’s right that sometimes it takes a long time to develop these things.  We are constantly pushing at the boundaries of science and some things are very cutting edge.  Very often, we are the first people to do something or we’re just behind other leading countries.  My observation is that different countries prioritise in different ways.  Some countries might have slightly better kit than us in one area but worse kit in another.  There is always debate but how do you judge?  It’s a difficult issue.

DF:  Do you really believe the MoD offers value for money?
JT: To me it’s a pretty good insurance policy for £35bn.  I’d much rather we had it than didn’t.  There are clearly political differences about the Armed Forces and deterrent.  But I think it is good value.

Within the interview Jon points out that that the MoD have reduced civil servants by 45,000 in the last 12 years and that there may still be more reductions.

1 Comment CherryPie on Jan 31st 2010

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