THE MINISTRY of Defence (MoD) faces a whopping £21billion funding shortfall over the next decade, placing the purchase of vital new equipment including fighter jets, submarines and armoured vehicles in jeopardy, according to the Public Accounts Committee which scrutinises the MoD’s spending.
The PAC’s report into the MoD’s ten-year equipment plan for 2017-27 stated: “The ministry simply does not have enough to buy all the equipment it says it needs.”
The committee accused the ministry of lacking transparency over its financial risks, and stated the “affordability gap” in the ten-year plan had worsened since its review the previous year.
They accused officials of being “unable to determine the size” of the affordability gap accurately.
According to the committee’s research, the conservative estimate for the ministry’s overspending above their 10-year £179.7billion equipment budget is £4.9billion, but this could rise to £20.8billion.
Committee Chair Meg Hillier commented on the worrying report, stating: “The MoD’s national security responsibilities give it a unique and critical place in the public sector but that is no excuse for a lack of rigour in its financial affairs.
“It is concerning that the Department could find itself more than £20billion short of the funding required to buy the equipment it says it needs.”
Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith also commented on the situation, saying: “Our defences require proper investment, not more excuses and denial.”
The report identified weaknesses in the MoD’s ability to control costs, and described their equipment budget plan as “not realistic”.
Among the most criticised actions of the MoD is the development of the new generation of nuclear missile submarines and the F-35 fighter jet programme.
The PAC also warned that due to large amounts of money being locked up in large-scale projects, the MoD lacks “flexibility” in spending which could jeopardise their ability to respond to unforeseen threats such as cyber attacks.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is also expected to wade into the debate on the MoD’s spending and equipment development, calling for three new Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships to be built in British shipyards.
In a speech in Glasgow on Friday, Mr Corbyn is expected to say: “Workers in British shipyards, from Plymouth to Rosyth, share a proud tradition – building the best ships in the world.
“But the Conservative Government is trashing that tradition by offering up the Ministry of Defence’s most recent contract for three new fleet solid support ships to overseas companies to build abroad.
“This decision is wrong.
“Today we are calling on the Government to guarantee that these three new ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary will be built in domestic shipyards.”