I have come up with a plan for what to write during the inevitably quieter days of the Christmas and New Year. I will look at how the various departments of government fared in the Spending Review the results of which were announced at the same time as the Autumn Statement on 25th November.
So, starting with Defence, this department saw an increase in its budget from a baseline figure of £27.2 billion in the current year to £31 billion in 2020-21. This is because of the government’s commitment to spend 2% of the Gross Domestic Product (ie: what the UK economy produces). Capital expenditure on defence equipment which is shown separately also increases From £7.1 billion to £8.7 billion.
£1.2 billion of this is to be spent on ensuring a Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier is ready for deployment with 24 jets on board by 2023. The arena forces will be maintained at their current levels and there will be four new nuclear submarines to deliver the nuclear deterrent.
Even with increase spending the Ministry of Defence will still be required to make savings. Pay restraint, reducing the number of civilians employed, ending military commitment bonuses, reducing travel expenditure and professional fees should all result in savings which will be reinvested into the defence budget.
All in all, the outcome of this review for the MoD demonstrates the commitment of government to meet the first duty of government: to keep its people safe.