Article by Paul Bemrose (PCS Negotiations Officer)
PCS delegation meets with Bob Ainsworth to explain the threat to training service personnel posed by DTR and second meeting on package 2 held with new IPT
As part of the PCS campaign on DTR, the union has been seeking to engage the government at Ministerial level rather than be continually stonewalled by the DTR IPT. On Wednesday 21 January, the meeting with Bob Ainsworth finally took place.
PCS explains its position- Min AF hears but does not listen
The PCS delegation explained to the Minister tha t PCS had not opposed tri-service rationalisation, and although opposed to PFI- understood government policy in utilising private finance. However, PCS could not accept and never would, that selling off our members to the private sector to exploit and make redundant was either in defence’s interest or indeed the country’s.
PCS pressed the Minister explaining that our members are “the contract” and the failure to keep them delivering training would lead to contract failure and put defence training at risk. PCS explained that our members, outside of St Athan, were unwilling to transfer across the country and move to South Wales.
PCS also pointed out that St Athan couldn’t recruit IOs now- being some 28% below complement already, and posed the question, how can METRIX recruit in the limited area of South Wales all the IOs it will require to=2 0deliver training, given the site couldn’t even recruit and retain now?
PCS also pointed out that it had been excluded from seeing the “fall back” plan in detail and the risk mitigation plans that underpin the risk register. PCS refuted the contention of both the IPT and Tim Inshaw that these matters were “commercial in confidence”.
Bob Ainsworth, an ex trade union official with MSF in the Jaguar car plant in Coventry, fully understood and even empathised with the PCS position. However, he made it quite clear that as long as METRIX was spending money on developing its final solution, then he would continue to press ahead with trying to deliver privatisation of training areas in scope of package 1.
PCS suggested, as it has previously, that MoD consider de-coupling the build programme from training delivery and support. Here the Minister deferred to the IPT Team Leader Geoff Nield, who was present. Nield dismissed the suggestion claiming training and estate management were integral and a “holistic” approach was needed. This in itself will be a revelation to companies like Vosper Thorneycroft at Collingwood, Sultan, Bordon, Arborfield, Raleigh, and Bovingdon- where they provide the training but do not own the estate or its buildings! Of course METRIX want the build programme and the training contract too. It is scarcely credible that Nield, and more particularly Bob Ainsworth- given his former Trade Union credentials, can fail to understand the motivation of any corporation or similar organisation- i.e. to increase shareholder value. This has nothing to do with what’s best for defence, and everything to do with what’s most profitable for METRIX.
The Minister clearly wanted to engage with PCS but was concerned that sharing information with the Trade Unions appears to rebound upon him and the Department. PCS assured the Minister that if genuinely commercially sensitive material was shared with PCS, t hen it would not find its way into the public domain through our union. However, all other material gained at meetings or through FOI etc are of public record and PCS would continue to use them in its DTR campaign.
The Minister undertook to look at whether PCS could receive copies of the risk mitigation plans and the fall back position and its financial footprint.
Clearly, the PCS will continue to campaign against the privatisation of package 1 and package 2- should that IPT push the solution down the outsourcing road. It may be that the credit crunch will either push this programme even further to the right or finish it off entirely. But either way, PCS cannot rely upon the economy or the political masters to halt DTR. This will have to be achieved by members coming together and continuing with other unions and likeminded community organisations to end the madness of defence training privatisation.
Package 2 meeting
The first meeting between PCS, Prospect and package 2 IPT was held in Upavon on 27th January. The IPT shared its work to date which lacked any details yet on proposed solutions, as the IPT will be base lining and gathering information for some time yet.
What we do know is:
• Package 2 includes DCLPA, DCPG and MDPGA. This therefore includes only two Defence Colleges given the departure of DISC from package 2.
• Deepcut is to close- but exactly what the solution is in terms of move options is still being scoped.
• That the IPT has employed 3 consultancy firms- KPMG as “Training Advisor”, Entec and Grimley’s as “Estates Advisors”.
• That the time lines of package 1 and package 2 is now fully disaggregated. Previously there was an expectation that package 2 would be delivered against the same time line as package 1. Information from PK2 IPT proposes main gate business case in Spring 2010, initial training capacity in Spring 2013 and full training capacity in Spring 2018. This however is likely to change, and if package 1 is anything to go by- move to the right.
As we receive more information on the maturing solutions within package 2, PCS will promulgate it through further BBs.
Chris Ames, a journalist PCS has been working with recently filed this story on his blog.
Mark Pritchard continues to badger the government on the rising cost of DTR. He submitted a written question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the implications for Wales of the defence training review programme
The reply from the government was:
The St. Athan Defence Training Academy is a very important project for Wales. The substantial investment of Package 1 will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs both during construction and from 2013, when construction is completed.
On the 28th January the following oral exchange was recorded in Hansard:
Mark Pritchard (Wrekin)
John Smith has claimed many times that hundreds of jobs will come to Wales as a result of the defence training review programme, but the programme has rising costs and increasing delays. Indeed, in his desperation, the hon. Gentleman visited the Prime Minister this week, even though the latter has given no assurance that the defence training review will go ahead in Wales. Do we not need an early statement from the Secretary of State giving us the truth about the project and its rising costs?
Paul Murphy (Secretary of State, Wales Office)
I have had no indication at all that there will be any change of plan as far as that huge investment in Wales is concerned. The Government are commi tted to it but I am sure that, when the time comes, there will be a proper statement to this House of Commons.
John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan)
Does my right hon. Friend agree that employment levels in south Wales will be greatly improved by the 5,000 jobs brought to the area by the defence technical academy? Does he also agree that it is about time that Opposition Members stopped knocking the project and began pulling together to en sure that it is brought in on time and within budget?
Paul Murphy (Secretary of State, Wales Office)
That is what we all like to hear. My hon. Friend has been a great champion of the project. When those jobs come to Wales, it will be as a result of the biggest single Government investment in Wales ever.
Clearly John Smith is still playing his role of drummer boy for METRIX, but his figures are as credible as his knowledge of defence training. John Smith recently talked about the need to get away from “chalk and talk” training- it shows how little he knows about the modern training environment. PCS believes not only do his 5,000 jobs include over a 1,000 military posts- which to the public are hardly countable, but also many of the jobs Smith continually mentions are transitory jobs created during the build phase.
The DTR campaigns committee will be meeting shortly to plan the next phase of the DTR campaign. Members are urged to look out for details on how they can continue to be involved in defence of their jobs and to protect defence training from METRIX market madness.
Article by Paul Bemrose (PCS Negotiations Officer)
John Smith MP meets the PM to discuss the defence training academy at St Athan reports Barry and District News on the 26th Jan on the same day as The Times reports that PFI schemes worth hundreds of millions of pounds for roads, waste plants, hospitals and defence projects are now under threat because the banks are reluctant to lend money.
The future of major PFI projects, such as the Defence Training Review in which QinetiQ has a major stake, is uncertain while credit markets are frozen say the Investors Chronicle
The National Audit Office (NAO) is considering opening an investigation into the QinetiQ-led project, which is the largest PFI in British history.
MP Mark Pritchard said that the DTR is "a privatisation too far". He said a key driver of rising costs - which went from GBP11 billion to GBP12 billion - and increasing delays was the need to build an infrastructure, including transport links, at RAF St Athan in Wales, which is where the project is bas
John Smith MP has failed to get any assurances from Gordon Brown or the Government that the £12billion and rising
VALE of Glamorgan MP, John Smith, discussed the strategic importance of the multi-billion pound
VALE of Glamorgan MP John Smith has been seeking assurances from the Government about the future of aircraft repair jobs. Mr Smith was speaking at the inquiry into the Defence Support Group (DSG) and the progress made since the amalgamation of the Army Base Repair Organisation (ABRO) and the Defence Aviation Repair Agency (DARA) in April 2008.
The chief executive of DSG, Archie Hughes, told the committee that work for St Athan was being actively sought for beyond 2014, when its maintenance of the VC10 aircraft is due to end.
Mr Smith, a member of the committee, said: “The workers at the St Athan site have some of the most highly prized set of technical skills in the aerospace engineering world. “I have no doubt whatsoever that the arrival of the Defence Technical Academy at St Athan can only work in favour of DSG St Athan winning new aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul work.”
FTSE 350: Aerospace & Defence
Investors Chronicle, UK -
Efforts to close a yawning £2bn hole in the
Labour forced to call for help as building programme stalls
Times Online, UK -
PFI schemes worth hundreds of millions of pounds for roads, waste plants, hospitals and defence projects are now under threat because the banks are ...
UK's Defence Training Review is nearing collapse, warns MP
Jane's, UK -
By Gerrard Cowan The UK's GBP12 billion (USD18 billion) Defence Training Review (DTR) is on the verge of collapse due to a "triple whammy of rising costs, ...
Chris Ames, a freelance writer and investigative journalist, is editor of iraqdossier.com
With the chancellor committing further billions of public money to bail out the banks, why are ministers so determined to push through an “unaffordable” privatisation that lost its rationale with the credit crunch?
Ainsworth was told last April of the £1bn increase that took the cost of the package to £12bn, making it unaffordable. A week later he stated in a written parliamentary answer that it provided savings of approximately £400 million over 30 years.
On 3 November, Ainsworth told MPs that “the programme is still affordable and remains more affordable than the in-house alternative”. The MoD subsequently disclosed under the freedom of information act that the cost of the programme remained at £12bn. It has also emerged that the MoD had by then developed a new in-house “fallback” proposal, which it has deemed both “affordable and deliverable”.
In their statements about the DTR, both Ainsworth and the MoD keep saying that they have worked hard to drive down costs. But, given that the price is still what it was when the project was “unaffordable”, have they actually cut anything off the price? Here’s a statement from an MoD spokesperson:
The spokesperson declined to deny that the MoD has simply increased its funding for the project to ease its affordability issues.
But why is the government so determined to push through an unaffordable privatisation that is no longer the cheapest option and only ever worked because the private sector had access to relatively cheap finance?
It is now clear that ministers have repeatedly misled MPs over the escalating costs of their biggest ever private finance initiative (PFI) project.
Under the defence training review (DTR) ministers plan to give the Metrix consortium a 30-year contract to build and run a specialist military academy in Wales. But increased borrowing costs and falls in the value of surplus MoD land have pushed the project’s price tag to £12bn. Many doubt the scheme's viability.
The National Audit Office recently disclosed that this “significant cost growth” led the Ministry of Defence to deem the project unaffordable last May. In spite of this, hapless Armed forces minister Bob Ainsworth has repeatedly claimed that it provides savings to the taxpayer.
Last April, a week after he was told of a £1bn increase in costs, Mr Ainsworth stated in a written parliamentary answer that the project provided savings of approximately £400 million over 30 years.
On 3 November, Ainsworth told MPs that “the programme is still affordable and remains more affordable than the in-house alternative”. But the MoD subsequently disclosed under the freedom of information act that the cost of the programme remained at £12bn. It has also emerged that the MoD has developed a new in-house “fallback” proposal, which it has deemed both “affordable and deliverable”.
Tory MP Mark Pritchard is a vocal opponent of the privatisation, which is interesting in itself. His constituency of the Wrekin includes RAF Cosford, which would close under the PFI. He says: “the project’s figures no longer add up - and neither do the minister’s words. There needs to be an early and updated statement in the House to clear up a long list of ministerial contradictions.”
In a letter to Pritchard, Ainsworth has asserted that his statement that the project was affordable was correct “at the time… following negotiations with Metrix to drive down costs and a rigorous and detailed assessment of the project’s affordability issues”.
Ainsworth declined to stand by his claim that the PFI option was “more affordable than the in-house alternative”. Ironically, he stated that detailed information on the costs of the in-house option “underpins our negotiating position with Metrix, and its disclosure would hinder the MoD’s ability to achieve value-for-money”.
Pritchard has accused Ainsworth of compromising his own department's negotiating position and prejudicing its ongoing evaluation. He claims that the government’s current financial difficulties mean the Treasury cannot ignore the rising costs of the project. "It is no longer tenable for ministers to write off the fallback in-house option." he says.
An MoD spokesperson told me: “The bottom line is that [the project] is affordable. The MOD and Metrix have over the last few months and continue to work constructively together to drive down costs without materially affecting the scope of the project. You can’t solely focus on the cost, affordability also incorporates the fact that [the project] is now the best value for money for the taxpayer.” But she refused to deny that the MoD has increased its funding for the project to ease its affordability issues.
Under the PFI, staff from Cosford and other MoD bases would have the option of transferring to St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan as employees of the Metrix consortium, which includes arms companies Qinetic and Raytheon, as well as training bodies City and Guilds and the Open University.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union opposes the PFI. Regional spokesperson Robert O'Harney, says: “Should the PFI go ahead, it will see our members being privatised and then 4 years later being given the choice of moving themselves and families to Wales or being made redundant. Additionally the vast ex-military experience of many of our members will be lost forever.”
The Financial Times report that a French Company Sodexo are a likely to replace Land Trillium as an equity partner in the Metrix consortium. Sodexo are already part of the consortium, responsible for providing services such as servicing and cleaning. Both Qinetiq and Sodexo declined to comment whether they were involved in such discussions:
By Sylvia Pfeifer, Defence Industries Correspondent
Published: January 17 2009 02:00 | Last updated: January 17 2009 02:00
Sodexo, the French contract caterer, is in advanced talks with Qinetiq, the lead contractor on a £12bn plan to centralise the military’s training, to help it take the project forward, the Financial Times has learnt.
The Defence Training Review, the UK’s largest private finance initiative, will centralise all non-military technical training for army, navy and air force personnel in one academy in Wales.
However, the 25-year programme, which had been battling cost increases, suffered a big setback in December when the outsourcing arm of Land Securities, the property company, wi thdrew from the process.
Land Securities Trillium and Qinetiq had been the two sole equity partners in the Metrix consortium which was awarded the contract to build and run the academy in January 2007. Qinetiq said at the time that Land Securities was withdrawing for strategic reasons - it was in the process of selling Trillium as part of an asset disposal programme. Land Securities also cited “significantly increased bid costs”.
Sodexo is a member of the Metrix consortium and res-ponsible for providing “soft” management services such as catering and cleaning.
People close to the negotiations confirmed that al-though an agreement had yet to be signed Sodexo had emerged as frontrunner to replace Trillium. It would take over responsibility for “hard” facilities - such as building services and estate management.
Industry rivals said they were surprised Sodexo had emerged as the frontrunner to replace Trillium, which had been providing land acquisition and management advice to the consortium. Supporters said the French company had extensive PFI experience.
Qinetiq declined to comment on Sodexo’s involvement but said “discussions are well advanced to secure a new equity partner”. Sodexo declined to comment.
On the 2nd “Anniversary” of the decision to let Metrix privatise military training under the auspices of the Defence Training Review (DTR) questions still remain on whether or not the project is affordable. An article in Defence Management Today highlights some of the ongoing concerns:
Two years after the Defence Training Review (DTR) was awarded to the Metrix consortium, the project is slowly making progress towards final approval. Yet major questions remain over the cost, affordability and staffing of this multi-billion pound programme that will revolutionise and transform training in the Armed Forces.
The DTR will centre most non-military technical training in one location- St Athan, Wales, for all three branches of the Armed Forces. When the contract was initially awarded to Metrix in January 2007 there were to be several packages in the programme. However following “affordability gaps” in the contract, the MoD scaled back the programme to one package.
Two years on the DTR is either facing oblivion or is about to dramatically transform the way the Armed Forces trains and operates, depending on who you talk too.
Defence management.com has learned through documents made available under the Freedom of Information Act that the MoD and other public bodies close to the deal knew of the £1bn rise in cost rise nearly a year ago despite the fact that it was not made public for almost six months.
Given the worsening economic conditions, there is no guarantee that costs will be able to be maintained at £12bn accordi ng to The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which has been an outspoken critic of the deal from the outset.
“The budget has risen by at least £1bn in the past 18 months. Given their [the MoD's] record for not keeping things on budget, there is every reason to think that costs will increase further,” said PCS’ Robert O’ Harney, the regional vice chair for the Midlands and spokesperson on the issue of the DTR.
The full article can be viewed here.
Will foreign mercenaries be trained at the St Athan training camp?
The Wales Green Party call on the Labour/Plaid Cymru coalition to come clean on the true cost - financial, social and environmental - of the proposed military training centre at St Athens. The proposed development being taken forward by Matrix is alike to the privatization of the armed forces with one of the main partners being the controversial
Jake Griffiths, spokesperson for the Wales Green Party, said “Who will be trained at the site? Will it be soldiers from overseas countries who are in a current state of conflict – such as
He continued “The costs for the project continue to rise and but what will be the true cost? The estimated cost has jumped from £1b to £12 Billion but is that the end. The viability is so questionable that one of the major partners Land Securities recently pulled out. Jobs created at the military training centre are again unclear with the majority being given to staff relocated to St Athans from other parts of the UK were training centres will have to close.”
“The area of the proposed site while it is currently an airfield is primarily rural in character and the development will be totally out of keeping. There are likely to be significant increases in traffic with calls for more road building to and from the site but no clear transport plan has yet to be produced for the project or cost estimate.”
The Wales Green Party have written to Metrix and the Labour/Plaid Cymru coalition asking for an explanation to the questions raised.
Campaign to oppose a privatised military academy for St Athan -
On the second anniversary of the announcement there will be a meeting to discuss the
We had confirmation from Dai Lloyd’s office that this Friday’s meeting is at
Friday Jan 16th 12 midday in Conference Room 21, Ty Hywel. Senedd - Ty Hywell is simply the new name for the Welsh Assembly’s former home. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crickhowell_House
Leanne Wood is confirmed to chair it, Dai Lloyd and Bethan Jenkins are confirmed to attend, and Rhodri Glyn Thomas may be coming.
Two years ago Westminster politicians, Ministry of Defence top brass and their cronies in big business were slapping each other on the back about a new military training academy in St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan. In
The plan is now unravelling as it becomes clear it’ll be a complete failure.
Hope to see you there.This is your chance to ask questions.
Questions for AMs Jan 2009
1. Are you happy for this massive PFI to be imposed on
2. When is there going to be a debate in the Assembly about the St Athan project ?
3. Is the DTR on the brink of collapse?
4. What amount and from which sources is taxpayer’s money involved? How much of this is coming from
5. Are Members satisfied that if this project falls apart, the Assembly’s budget will not be adversely affected?
6. Have the Welsh Assembly Government been briefed on the latest funding situation since and the withdrawal of LST?
7. Will Metrix make up cash shortfall by training private armies, regardless of their human rights record, and is there anything to stop them doing that?
8. Why are present highly qualified training staff quitting?
9. Why has the St Athan consultation website not been updated and why is still no feed back from the consultations that have already taken place as long ago as July 2008.(http://www.st-athanconsultation.co.uk/)
10. Visitors to the DTA exhibition complained of a “lack of detailed information”. Have the issues raised there been addressed? Will the academy be an “isolated, gated village“? Would nearby towns see an increase in “squaddie rowdiness and drop outs from the academy”?
11. In related news ‘Wales on Line’ reports - £100m plus plan that is being considered, to build a new road to
12. Why should Welsh taxpayers subsidise private organisations?
According to the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), the win has shown that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is prepared "to reward failure". How right they are!
Ministry of Defence criticised over EDS contract - ZDNet UK Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: "It is astounding that the MoD is ... bid on this contract and other contracts such as defence training." EDS is a partner in the Metrix consortium.
Former new labour minister cashes in on the MoD Monday, January 05, 2009
Adam Ingram, who served in Tony Blair's government from 2001-2007 as armed forces minister, has one of the highest salaries outside of Parliament. Since leaving government in June 2007 when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, Ingram has earned over £170,000 in consulting fees from various companies and organisations, including several that do business with the MoD.
EDS which oversees much of the MoD's IT programmes and installation has paid Ingram £55,000 per year to advise them on winning government contracts including further work with the MoD. EDS has continued to win vital contracts from the MoD over the past year despite criticism over delays to certain high profile projects and the loss of personal data for several thousand servicemen.
Ingram was a minister at the MoD in 2005 when EDS won a multi-billion pound IT contract known as the defence information infrastructure (DII).
Among the other organisations and companies he takes a salary from are SignPoint Secure Ltd, an emergency communications company, and the International School for Security and Explosives Education both of which have done work with the MoD.
story from defence management journal
Read more here on EDS massive incompetance
ANTI-METRIX: EDS coporate incompetance EDS is one the Metrix consortium although it has a record of massive incompetence who can't manage to pay the armed services at present or run a computer ...
|Meanwhile the silence from Welsh politicans is deafening! |
Government auditors could investigate struggling defence PFI
The National Audit Office (NAO) has said it may investigate the £12bn Defence Training Review (DTR) project, as fears persist that the deal might not be viable.
"We will continue to monitor the defence department's progress to see whether and when the time might be right to start a full value-for-money investigation," said Tim Burr, the head of the NAO.
The deal would centralise defence training in St Athan,
A spokesman for Metrix, the preferred bidder on the project, said: "Metrix is pleased with the progress that it is making with the defence ministry and is working towards completing the process that will lead to contract signature by the summer of 2010."
Why are reports fron the consultations in July 2008 not been prepared yet! Over 6 months ago!
David Swallow a Director at the Welsh Assembly Government said “This latest phase of
consultation represents an opportunity for the public to comment on the current draft
plans for the site. These comments really do count and it is important that as many people attend as possible so we can move forward together.”
The St Athan consultation website has not been updated and there is no feed back from the
consultations that have already taken place.
I rang the dedicated phone line 0845 618 0016, and asked for the reports and minutes of the consultations that have already taken place but was told there was no minutes as such.
These comments really do count so where can I find or locate any minutes, reports or
feedback from the consultations that have taken place already?
Why is the consultation website so out of date? The latest ‘news’ is 30th June 2008!
Where is there no information on a major partner LS in the consortium pulling out?
Where is the information on the proposal to reduce courses by 25% to save money?
Public phone line on st athan consultation 0845 618 0016,
Following our conversation just now, I wanted to let you
know that a detailed analysis of Phase One of the
consultation regarding the redevelopment of MOD St Athan
has taken place and the report is being finalised at
Once this is complete, it will available for public
viewing and I will be sure to let you know.
St Athan Project Public Consultation Services
Friday, January 02, 2009
Like a shark circling its wounded prey in the water, the National Audit Office (NAO) is patiently waiting to for the controversial Defence Training Review (DTR) to sign a formal contract before it begins an investigation into the programme.
The training programme is to streamline and privatise the majority of defence training into a single location in St Athan, Wales. It is being led by the Metrix consortium which is headed by Qinetiq.
In recent months, critics of the DTR have argued that is on the brink of collapse. Costs have risen by £1bn to £12bn. The main financing plan which centred on the sale of vacant MoD land collapsed under the current economic crises as well. Then last month, Land Securities, one of the key partners in the consortium dropped out of the project altogether due to "strategic differences."
Conservative MP Mark Pritchard has been a staunch opponent of the DTR. He recently lobbied the NAO to begin a full investigation into the programme and whether or not it is providing value for money. He also indicated to Jane's Weekly that there were national security concerns as well in regards to the project.
Despite the fact that the programme has already spent over £34m in taxpayers money, the head of the20NAO Tim Burr said that no investigation can begin until a formal contract is signed. This may not come for at least another year due to delays to the programme. Burr's language to Pritchard in a written response however indicates that the NAO has the DTR in its sites and is preparing to act once a contract is signed.
He told Pritchard the NAO could "press ahead" only when a contract was signed: "We will continue to monitor the [defence] department's progress to see whether and when the time might be right to start a full value-for-money investigation."
Pritchard has opposed the DTR from the outset due to what he believes are serious questions over cost, financing and the maintaining of the military ethos.
"This is a project that is on life support. Ministers should come clean and admit they got it wrong. In a time of war, defence training should not be outsourced to profit-making companies, but retained within the public sector which provides a military ethos," he said in a statement.