FT: "UK Defence Minister Says Military Faces Shortfall"

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"Ben Wallace, defence secretary, has confirmed that the British armed forces face a funding crisis that threatens to create a critical shortfall in next year’s budget for his department.

Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that the heads of the army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy held an urgent meeting at the Ministry of Defence to discuss the shortfall, which one military official said was equivalent to £1bn in the next financial year.

Asked about the FT report on the BBC’s Political Thinking with Nick Robinson programme, Mr Wallace said: “There is a shortfall of money based on the baseline of where we were.”

He refrained from putting a figure on how big the gap was but said: “It isn’t a surprise. It’s widely accepted that the SDSR [Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015] was not correctly funded.

”While the MoD was granted a £2.2bn boost in September’s Treasury spending review, viewed as a generous settlement by chancellor Sajid Javid, this fell short of the £3.3bn that had been requested.

The chiefs’ concerns are focused on a funding gap in the 2020-2021 budget due to a legacy of inefficiencies and the rising cost of programmes, one UK military official said.

UK military spending is about to come under heavy scrutiny in another SDSR to consider future threats led by Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s chief adviser.

Ahead of the new review, Mr Wallace said he had told each of the three service chiefs that they must establish one single priority to improve the efficiency of existing programmes before asking for more money.

He said that the Navy had set a target to try and resolve engine problems with its Type 45 destroyers. “The more they are fixed, the more we can use them for foreign policy and defence objectives,” he said.

He added that the Army’s responsibility was to improve recruitment before spending more money on kit. For the RAF, the main objective will involve raising efficiency over the training of fighter pilots.

Mr Cummings has been a fierce critic of waste at the Ministry of Defence, especially the £6.2bn procurement of two aircraft carriers which he has characterised as “a farce”.

 

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