The UK’s public spending watchdog has branded the Ministry of Defence’s plan for buying new equipment “unaffordable”, with a £7 billion shortfall identified over the next ten years.
Chancellor Philip Hammond announced £1 billion for defence spending in the Budget last week, pointing to “stark reminders” of the “scale, scope and complexity” of the threats faced.
And the Treasury said that together with funding announced in March, defence will have benefitted from an additional £1.8 billion over 2018-19 and 2019-20.
But the National Audit Office (NAO) suggests this will only go some way to addressing the department’s needs.
The MOD’s rolling plan covering the period 2018 to 2028, which was published yesterday, forecasts costs of £193.3 billion from a budget of £186.4 billion.
And this figure could rise to almost £15 billion should all identified risks come to pass.
SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald called for a “fundamental change in approach”.
He added: “The department is attempting to deliver a sustainable defence settlement during a period when spending on the UK’s unusable and unaffordable dreadnought programme will be at its highest – an inconvenient truth which shows the real damage that Trident does to the conventional defence budget.”
A spokesman for the MOD said it was confident about delivering the equipment plan “within budget this year, as we did last year”.
He added: “We recognise the financial challenges that these ambitious, complex programmes pose, and are addressing these after securing a £1.8 billion financial boost for defence and reducing forecast costs by £9.5 billion through efficiency savings.”