UK Defence Gets Extra £1 Billion
Ministry of Defence Given More Funding in Budget Announcement, But Is It Enough?
During yesterday’s Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged £1 billion to the MOD over the next two years, designed to boost cyber capabilities and anti-submarine warfare capacity, and to maintain the pace of the Dreadnought programme.
Mr Hammond told the House of Commons that “The UK spends more on defence than any NATO member except the US, but over the last year we’ve had stark reminders of the scale, scope and complexity of the threats we face.”
The additional funding will help protect the UK against immediate threats. There will be new funds to support veterans’ mental health, and the extra £1 million pledged for WWI battlefield visits for school students. Some planned cuts will no longer have to be made.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
The extra £1 billion for defence on top of the £800 million increase this summer represents a substantial financial boost and reaffirms our commitment to protecting national security.
Not only will this funding ensure we continue to have world-leading armed forces but will also allow defence to modernise our critical assets, such as our offensive cyber capabilities, anti-submarine warfare and our nuclear deterrent.
Furthermore, it allows us to deliver our existing plans set out within the Strategic Defence Review 2015.
In July this year, the Commons Defence Committee had warned that without further defence investment, Britain would struggle to maintain its military relationship with the USA.
What Will the Extra Money be Spent On?
Cyber, Anti-Submarines and the Dreadnought Programme
The lion’s share of the budget will be spent to “boost our cyber capabilities and our anti-submarine capabilities and to maintain the pace of the Dreadnought programme to ensure a continuous at sea deterrent”, according to the Chancellor.
Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC)
Up to £70 million has been earmarked for the building of the national element of the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) near Loughborough.
Donation To Support Veterans
To mark the Centenary of the Armistice, the Treasury will also make a £10 million donation to support veterans with mental health needs.
“Many projects are raising money for veterans charities from sales of commemorative items on which VAT is charged,” said the Chancellor.
“We cannot waive the VAT due on these sales, but we can make a donation with the VAT we will receive.
“The Treasury will mark the centenary of the Armistice by making a donation of £10 million to the Armed Forces Covenant Trust to support veterans with mental health needs.”
The Chancellor confirmed that £1.7 million will be spent on educational programmes in schools to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of concentration camps.
Is £1 Billion Enough?
Former Royal Navy chief, Admiral Lord West, now a Labour peer, criticised the £1 billion pledge as a “drop in the ocean.” Lord West added that the money “will not stop the hollowing out” of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.
The National Audit Office, the government’s financial watchdog, identified a funding shortfall of between £4 billion and £20 billion in the MOD’s £179 billion 10-year equipment plan.
According to a research briefing for Parliament released in July 2018, Britain’s defence spending over the last five years has reduced by around £1 billion in real terms to £35.3 billion in 2016/17. By 2020/21 defence spending is planned to be £37.1 billion. The UK has achieved the NATO 2% target in each of the last eight years.
Source: MOD, Forces News.
Image: Soldiers from 6 Regiment, Army Air Corps (6 AAC) conduct Under Slung Load (USL) training with Wildcat Helicopter from the Aviation Reconnaissance Force (ARF), based in Yeovilton, as part of a Regimental Training Weekend at the Army Aviation Centre, in Middle Wallop. 6 Regiment Army Air Corps is the sole Army Reserve regiment of the British Army Air Corps (AAC). The regiment operates in a groundcrew role, providing support to Army Aviation units of the Joint Helicopter Command. (Crown Copyright, 2018)