The UK may not be able to afford projected levels of spending on military equipment over the next decade, MPs are warning. The Commons Public Accounts Committee said it did not “yet have confidence” the planned £159bn equipment budget between now and 2022 could be paid for. It urged the Ministry of Defence to be a “more intelligent customer” when purchasing and agreeing delivery dates. David Cameron has pledged to increase equipment budgets by 1% after 2015. Equipment accounts for about 40% of defence spending and this is expected to rise to 45% by the end of the decade. Ministers say they are getting to grips with the multi-billion pound black hole in procurement budgets they inherited from the Labour government. As part of efforts to bring greater transparency to equipment spending, officials published in January a “fully funded and affordable” ten-year-plan for expenditure between 2012 and 2022. Its central assumptions are underpinned by the government’s pledge to increase equipment spending by 1% every year between 2015-6 and 2020-21 despite likely cuts elsewhere. The Ministry of Defence’s budget is being cut by about 8% between 2010 and 2014 and further cuts to defence spending after the next election are being resisted by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, as well as Tory backbenchers.
The committee also warned that the MoD continues to experience difficulties in delivering IT projects on time and budget and it was concerned the department did not have sufficient experience to hold contractors to account.
David Cameron has pledged to increase equipment budgets by 1% after 2015 – That’s good because he won’t be in power after 2015, too little too late. This country must rapidly be becoming a laughing stock within (and without) NATO.
Whilst the immense amount of money that has been wasted by this (and previous) government would completely fill the void, common sense dictates that it would have made the shortfall smaller. The problem with government, regardless of colour, is that they are all only too ready to write their own ineptitude off and the taxpayer can pick up the tab.
Maybe politicians and senior civil servants would be a little more careful with the public purse if they were held financially liable for financial disasters that occur ‘on their watch’, instead we hear a lot of Tut Tutting and then nothing, it’s rapidly forgotten because you and I, the taxpayers, are paying for it.