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29.04.2020

Welcome to the latest edition of Defence Insights. Since the last edition the government has launched it’s Covid-19 Job Retention Scheme. We would actively like feedback on any issues you are having with the scheme or indeed any of the other government initiatives, loan schemes etc. Is the money flowing to your businesses, does the HMRC website work etc? Make UK and NDI are in regular and active dialogue with members of the Cabinet and their offices and we need your stories and experiences (good and bad) of the scheme and of other Covid-19 related issues.  Please email your issues to [email protected] 

We have had several meetings with senior representatives of the MOD and DIT-DSO since the last edition of Defence Insights. Again we would very much like to hear your experiences of how things are working or not. In particular, we want to know if you are not being paid on time. MOD are very keen to know of any businesses not paying their suppliers. The MOD continues to pay its suppliers on time and in some cases perhaps even earlier than usual – there should be few excuses for late payment in the defence supply chain. 

If you have any comments or questions arising from this Defence Insights do not hesitate to contact me or your NDI Account Manager. We are here to help and support you through this very challenging time. Please forward this to anyone that might be interested or may want to join NDI and ask them to contact [email protected] to be added to the mailing list. We send you our best wishes in the meantime. Please look at www.makeuk.org for the very latest news and advice for manufacturers. 

Please stay safe and well (and your families) 

Andrew Kinniburgh ([email protected]

MOD and Policy News

Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) - Open Call remains open for innovation to fight Covid-19 and other areas of technology from DASA. Link here to see details. Scroll down to see Covid-19 specifics.

DIT-DSO
I attended a video call on Friday 24th hosted by Mark Goldsack (Hd DIT-DSO) including various defence and security trade associations. This was focusing on the future of the defence supply chain, particularly from an export perspective. We await slides from this meeting that we will push out to you our members as soon as we receive them that pose a number of questions about your views of the future of defence supply chain from an export perspective.

Your responses will then be fed into the Integrated Review. I asked specific questions on the British Government’s willingness to consider linking DIFID’s large aid budget to trade deals and whether MOD were considering adopting an official line on Offset for large Defence deals awarded to overseas contractors. Both options are actively being considered. Finally, I asked if DE&S were included in this cross departmental review and if Buying from the UK was a priority. Mark assured me they were included and it was on the agenda. See below for Mark Francois’s questions about a root and branch review of Defence Procurement.

House of Commons Defence Select Committee
The Defence Committee has questioned Ben Wallace MP (Secretary of State for Defence) via video link, together with senior officers. The coverage can be found here. Questions from the committee included:

  1. Why MOD’s strategic planning, logistics and contracting skills were not being deployed more widely across other government departments and why MOD’s scenario planning, which had detailed planning in place for a global pandemic was not used across government.
  2. Was there a higher incidence of cyber and other aggressive moves from our adversaries? He answered yes and certainly Make UK / NDI’s research both directly and with our cyber partner ACP would suggest that there is a big jump in attacks, up to a 400% increase. ACP are currently offering a 6 month payment holiday to help businesses protect themselves during this time. You can find details here.
  3. S of S backs an investigation into the outbreak both internationally and nationally.
  4. Total staff (civilian and military) currently supporting the national Covid-19 response equals 2587. 19,000 + under High Readiness (variously on 24/48 hrs notice). Currently standing up teams to conduct mobile testing for care homes.
  5. Fleet Solid Support Ship – reopening the competition around September 2020. S of S described it as a flawed procurement activity upon questioning from MPs about it needing to be built at a UK shipyard.
  6. The Integrated Review has been “slowed not stopped but is not running at full throttle”
  7. Overspend Problems with political interference, over specing of equipment and SDSRs have all conspired to make the defence equipment budget.
  8. Mark Francois MP asked for a commitment to a root and branch review of the defence procurement function. S of S stated that MOD needs to reform around the culture and optimism of thinking on programmes and disconnect between estimated and actual cost but stopped short of wholeheartedly endorsing Mr Francois’s statement.   

Hansard Defence News – nothing new to report.

Defense News reports on the answers given by the S of S above.

Janes Defence Weekly reports BAE Systems has been contracted to deliver an autonomous version of its Pacific 24 sea boat to support the UK Royal Navy’s (RN’s) NavyX autonomy and lethality accelerator.

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