Our poor Ministry of Defence. Not only is it laying off troops left and right, but now it's being accused on sitting on literally billions of pound's worth of unused equipment by Parliamentary bean-counters.
The MoD's got an inventory stockpile worth about £40 billion, of which some £3.4 billion are apparently 'unnecessary', and have been earmarked for 'disposal' by the public accounts committee. It reckons that the MoD is buying more 'consumables' -- bullets, beans and boots -- than it really needs, leading to this unnecessary equipment stockpile. In fact, the committee reckons that when troops return from Afghanistan and Germany (something that's slated to happen over the next few years), the MoD won't have enough storage space to leave all their goodies.
Of course, these are some pretty big numbers we're talking about -- the MoD's budget is only £34 billion this year, so saving a tenth of that by flogging off unnecessary stuff would be handy, I suppose. But, we're still in the middle of a war in Afghanistan, and I can't help but think that some of that "unnecessary" stuff will be bullets and uniforms that might come in useful -- in 2006, when things first kicked off in Afghanistan, there was a chronic shortage of bullets and body armour, something that's only been corrected in the last few years.
It's also worth considering that the MoD probably wouldn't be able to get £3.4 billion for the kit it's got lying around -- if it really is things like uniforms and spare parts for vehicles, well, those aren't exactly in high demand. (Side note: there's a whole website dedicated to selling used MoD vehicles -- totally worth checking out if you've ever had a fantasy of driving round in a tank.) I'm sure the MoD can save some money somewhere -- I just don't think that should be from selling off kit that the troops actually need. [Telegraph]
Image credit: Defence Image Database under Open Government License