Mike Hookem MEP slams “broken” privatised recruitment process as Government is forced to relax rules on admission of Commonwealth citizens into the UK’s armed forces in an effort to stem personnel crisis.

UKIP defence spokesman, Mike Hookem MEP, has welcomed moves to allow more Commonwealth citizens to serve in the UK’s armed forces; but slammed the “broken and expensive” privatised recruitment process branding it, “unfit for purpose and a danger to national security.”

Commenting on the Government move to allow non-resident Commonwealth citizens to apply to serve in the UK’s armed forces, Mr Hookem said; “throughout history, some of Britain’s best troops have come from Commonwealth countries, and I think it’s a positive move to open this strand of recruitment further.”

“However, the Government’s move has been born out of necessity, as the armed forces face a personnel shortage of at least 8,200 troops across the services – and potentially many more when sickness, injury and personal circumstances are taken into account.

“The fact is, the outsourced recruitment process – handed to Capita in a multi-year £44 million deal – is broken at every level; despite costing taxpayers over £700 million since 2012.

Since Capita’s takeover of recruitment, there have been reoccurring reports of delays in processing applications – with one report saying that only 8% of those people making an initial application, going on to become soldiers – due to waits of up to a year.

“And the crisis in recruitment and retention is nothing new!

“In 2016, the MoD was forced to re-classify troops with only basic training as being ‘combat ready,’ rather than requiring the advance combat and trade training that was previously demanded.

“However, there is a simple solution to the issue of armed forces recruitment. Let’s hand it back to the armed forces; bring back the traditional recruiting sergeant and get back into schools.

“The armed forces offer a huge range of opportunities in a wide range of skilled professions, and there is nobody better placed to explain this than the armed forces themselves.”

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