UK set to increase defence spending

Harry Lye 2 September 2019 (Last Updated September 2nd, 2019 15:39)

UK Chancellor Sajid Javid is set to announce an increase in UK defence spending to above its commitment of half a per cent more than the inflation rate in this week’s spending round.

UK set to increase defence spending
Soldiers from the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment conducting FIWAF (fighting in woods and forests) training in Norway as part of Exercise Trident Juncture. Credits: MOD Crown Copyright.

UK Chancellor Sajid Javid is set to announce an increase in UK defence spending to above its commitment of half a per cent more than the inflation rate in this week’s spending round.

Javid will use Wednesday’s (4 August) spending round to highlight the importance of the UK’s military alliances and underline the commitment to keep defence spending above 2.1% of the UK’s GDP as recommended by NATO.

Ahead of the spending round, Javid said: “As we leave the EU, we are deeply committed to playing a leading role on the global stage. That means bolstering alliances, celebrating our culture, building new trading relationships and making sure we can act when needed to keep our people safe.

“We shouldn’t be ashamed of being proud of our place in the world – we are and will remain a great nation with fantastic assets.”

The Treasury said it was committed to ensuring that the UK Armed Forces were ‘world-class’ and the ‘best-funded in Europe’.

The spending review will outline the budget of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for the period of 2020-2021. Currently, the MOD budget is £38.8bn, with the increase in funding set to raise the budget nearly £40bn.

The UK is also set to increase spending on diplomatic efforts giving more money to embassies and consulates across the world.

Forces Network also reported that the treasury would set aside £5m for the newly created Office for Veterans’ Affairs which it will spend on helping former military personnel with homelessness, medical treatment and job training.

During his campaign for leader of the Conservatives and Prime Minister, allies of Boris Johnson said he was committed to raising the defence budget, but fell short of saying by how much spending would increase.

At the recent G7 summit in Biarritz, Johnson reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to ongoing defence agreements, saying: “We will remain at the heart of the alliances that span the world. And we will continue to use the breadth of our expertise in diplomacy, defence and development to uphold and safeguard the global order on which peace and prosperity depends.”

NATO mandates that member states spend at least 2% of their GDP on defence, however, only the US, UK, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Greece and Estonia currently meet this commitment.

The UK has the highest defence budget in Europe and is the sixth-largest defence spender globally  according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

Around 70% of all NATO spending is by the US, which is the world’s highest defence spender.

This year’s spending round will be delivered in parliament on Wednesday with a multi-year spending review set for 2020.