MOD slammed for ignoring economic climate in multi-billion equipment plans

Mastiffs on a firing range
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Parliament’s influential Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has warned the military that its equipment plans are over-budget and ignore the current economic crisis. The PAC plans may also fail to hit NATO targets, and won’t support Ukraine in its war against Russia.

The committee, led by Labour’s Meg Hillier, was scathing in its assessment of Ministry of Defence (MOD) budgets:

The Ministry of Defence’s… approach to its Equipment Plan has failed to adapt to a more volatile world.

Military budgets

Some of the committee’s findings themselves smack of hawkishness. They warn that the UK might not fulfil commitments to NATO and Ukraine. Others warn that the plans will be over-budget and ignore current economic crises.

For example, the PAC found that armoured vehicle projects have not moved fast enough:

Notably, timetables for introducing Boxer and Ajax armoured vehicles have slipped significantly, leaving the Army reliant on outdated vehicles and unable to provide the necessary deterrence of adversaries.

Additionally, the MOD was accused of being overly optimistic about the economics and timetabling of some projects:

Read on...

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Overall affordability is based on potentially over-optimistic assessments of project costs, with the Department’s Cost Assurance and Analysis Service estimating that costs could be at least £5 billion higher than forecast.

Warfare not welfare

The PAC was very blunt about the MOD’s understanding of economic reality. It said that the department had largely ignored inflation and the cost of living crisis:

The Department has ignored the worsening economic environment in its latest Equipment Plan and faces significant financial pressures on its equipment programme.

It added:

We do not think that the Department has sufficiently taken these factors into account when considering the
affordability of the plans.

While some of what committee said is accurate, it doesn’t tell the whole story. There is little criticism of the need for massive military spending in and of itself. Indeed, the PAC appears as committed to militarism as the rest of the UK political system. They’d just like to see it done a little more cheaply and efficiently. And, as experts have warned, militarism does nothing to address real insecurity.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Cpl Babbs Robinson, cropped to 770 x 403, Open Government Licence.

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