British troops in South Sudan
Services

Concerns Raised As UK Armed Forces Record Fall In Numbers

A report said the current deficit against the workforce requirement is 7.6%.

British troops in South Sudan

Ministers have been accused of "running down" the UK military after figures showed a decrease in trained personnel across the services.

Data published by the Ministry of Defence shows the full-time trade trained strength of the Army was 74,440 as of 1 July, compared to the workforce requirement of 82,000 - a deficit of 9.2%.

In July 2018, the figure was 76,880.

The RAF total stood at 29,930 of the required 31,840, a decrease from July 2018's total of 30,280.

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines decreased to 29,090 of the required 30,600, a decrease from 29,150 recorded 12 months earlier.

Anonymous British soldier
Concerns over the use of private firm Capita in recruitment and wider efforts to retain personnel have been repeatedly raised by MPs (Picture: Crown Copyright).

The report noted: "The current deficit against the workforce requirement is 7.6% for the UK Armed Forces."

Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith said the Government is either in "complete denial" about the recruitment and retention "crisis" or they are "actively in favour of cutting" the Armed Forces.

She said: "It is clear that the Conservatives just cannot be trusted with our country's defences.

"Year after year they are running down our Armed Forces, with numbers now well below their own targets."

Anonymous British soldiers boots

Increases in the trained strength of the reserve forces for each service were recorded, including the Army increasing by 210 to 27,000 in the 12-month period up to 1 July, against an April 2019 target of 30,100.

For the Army, the Government has been working to boost a shrunken regular force of 82,000 with an increased reserve force of 30,000.

But concerns over the use of private firm Capita in recruitment and wider efforts to retain personnel have been repeatedly raised by MPs.

An MOD spokesperson said: "We have been working hard to improve our recruitment process and are already seeing results, with Regular soldier applications at a five year high in 2018/19.

"March also saw the largest intake of recruits since 2012, although given the time it takes to train soldiers, it is too soon to see these results reflected as an upturn in trained strength.

"The Army continues to meet all of its operational commitments to keep Britain safe and we are committed to working with Capita to address remaining challenges."