30 Oct 2018

Budget 2019: Chancellor boosts defence spending by £1 billion

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, yesterday delivered the last budget before the UK leaves the European Union next March, announcing an extra £1 billion in defence spend.

Mr Hammond provided a much-needed boost to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) by allocating an extra £1 billion million over the next two years to bolster the UK’s cyber capabilities and the new nuclear submarine plan.

The Chancellor also pledged an extra £160 million for counter terror police to ensure the number of specialist officers working to investigate and stop attack plots is maintained.

Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, welcomed the announcement, saying: “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 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.”

The increase is good news not just for defence but also for the wider economy. The defence industry makes a huge contribution across all regions of the UK whether as a major employer, a large investor or as a hub for local communities. The MOD is the third largest landowner in the country with 220,000 hectares often benefiting remote and rural communities.

The UK is the second largest defence exporter in the world, which helps deliver the equipment and services British troops and security services require to safeguard national security.

In 2017, the UK won defence orders worth £9 billion, up on the previous year’s figure of £5.9 billion – with a 12% share of the global defence export market.

In 2017, the value of UK security export sales was £4.8 billion, an increase from 2016 (£4.3 billion) moving the UK upwards from fifth to fourth largest exporter.

Earlier this year, a National Audit Office report claimed that the MOD faced a potential shortfall of more than £20bn in its equipment budget over the next decade.

The Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, has made no secret of his ambition to see his department receive greater funding and the Chancellor, as a former Defence Secretary, said he empathised the need to tackle the “immediate challenge in defence“. It would appear that he was able to use this budget to tackle any immediate concerns facing the MOD.

image © Crown Copyright

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