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Defence Defence

Invest £178 billion in new military equipment over the next decade

Last updated: 12:03am 31 December 2018

We plan to invest £178 billion in new military equipment over the next decade, creating high-skilled jobs across the whole country.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.41

Our verdict

The government plans to increase spending on military equipment in order to guard against growing security concerns it has identified:

“Russia’s resurgence, the increasing cyber threat, instability in the Middle East and North Africa, and the growing threat of international terrorism”

This policy is a promise to invest £178 billion in military equipment over the next decade.  The National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) 2015 explains what equipment has been planned for procurement.

Ten years exceeds the term of a government, so to assess this policy, we can use either of two standards to measure the government’s progress. Firstly, does the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) average annual spending on equipment reach £17.8 billion (a tenth of the promised spend over ten years) within its term? Secondly, does equipment spending increase year on year at a rate that, if continued, will reach the target of £178 billion by the ten-year mark?

From 2015, MOD spending on equipment decreased year on year 2015-2017, with a very small rise (£24 million) in 2018. Between 2012- 2015 that spending had increased steadily. As of 2018, annual spending is at £15.8 billion. Whichever of our measures we use, the government is a long way from meeting its manifesto commitment.

The investment promised in the manifesto represents an increase in spending. So far, the government has spent less on military equipment each year than was spent in the year prior to the last general election. We consider that enough to mark this as ‘broken’. We’ll keep monitoring, in case there is a dramatic rise in spending which would warrant moving this to ‘in progress’. Follow this policy to stay up to date.

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