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Defence Defence

Increase the defence budget by at least 0.5 per cent above inflation every year

Last updated: 07:45pm 30 December 2018

…and we will increase the defence budget by at least 0.5 per cent above inflation in every year of the new parliament.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.41

Our verdict

The amount the government spends on defence has varied greatly, often aligning with the conflicts the UK is involved in. For example, defence spending decreased after the Cold War, then rose sharply after the 2001 deployment in Afghanistan. There is pressure on many European countries to keep defence spending at 2% or more of GDP, a commitment of NATO members.

In 2017-18, defence spending in the UK was £36.61 billion, up from the previous year’s £35.3 billion, a real-terms increase of 1.9% when things like inflation are considered. This is well above the government’s 0.5% commitment, and since publishing the manifesto the government has repeated its 0.5% promise, as in this brochure from September 2017.

Because defence spending has increased more than 0.5% between 2016-17 and 2017-18, and because the government has repeated its intention to stick to these yearly rises, we’re confident that this policy is ‘in progress’. We’ll only know for sure that it is ‘done’ when the next election arrives, so stay tuned. Follow this policy for updates.

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