LONDON — Britain’s defense spending is set to get its second boost in three days after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a further hike in his budget speech Mar 15.
Hunt said representations by his “persuasive defense secretary,” a reference to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, had convinced him to add £6 billion ($7.2 billion) above the £5 billion hike announced on Monday.
Wallace has been engaged in a fight with the Treasury for additional money to rebuild capabilities of an armed forces ,which the defense secretary has previously said had been hollowed out over the last 30 years.
Defense budget problems have been exacerbated by double digit inflation recently, although Hunt had some good news on that front, telling Parliament the cost rise numbers would be below 2.9% by the end of the year.
“I confirm that we will add a total of £11 billion to our defense budget over the next five years and it will be nearly 2.25% of GDP by 2025,” Hunt told lawmakers.
The Treasury said the spending was “recognition of the deteriorating security environment where the UK must be able to deter and defend against increasing threats to our security, as described in the Integrated Review-Refresh.”
The update of that 2021 defense, security and foreign policy review, released on Monday, was sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and other fast moving challenges to international order.
The MoD is scheduled to follow up the integrated review later this year with a strategy prioritizing equipment capabilities and possibly a boost to personnel numbers, particularly in the Army.
The announcement of the second part of the defense spending hike follows Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying March 13 the Conservative Government was to spend £5 billion over the next two years – £2 billion next year and £3 billion the year after.
The government said March 13 the £5 billion increase over the next two years would be spent on Britain’s nuclear submarine building and support activities and replenishing missile and munition stocks depleted by the supply of weapons to Ukraine.
Neither the Treasury or the Ministry of Defence detailed what the new extra funding was earmarked for.
The additional £6 billion announced by Hunt will be equally split across the final three years of a five year period starting 2023/24.
The Chancellor reiterated the statement made earlier in the week saying the government’s ambition was to raise defense spending to 2.5% of GDP but only once fiscal and economic conditions allowed.
The defense budget this year will amount to more than £48 billion – just above the 2% level sought by NATO.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.