Defence chiefs slammed by MPs for ‘woeful’ progress on closing multi-billion pound black hole

Posted On: 
1st February 2019

Defence bosses have been criticised by MPs for their “woeful” failure to close a multi-billion pound funding gap in their equipment budget.

MPs on the Public Accounts Committee have criticised the MoD's 10-year plan
PA Images

The Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinises government spending, says the department is the Ministry of Defence is "failing taxpayers" because of its poor financial planning.

The criticism comes in a report on ministers’ 10-year plan to spend more than £180bn on new warships, submarines, jets and armoured vehicles.

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However the committee said the plan remained “unaffordable” as they took aim at the department for failing to heed warnings it made in May last year.

It estimates an affordability gap of £7bn in the plan across over the next decade, which could even soar to nearly £15bn.

The committee adds that failing to address the problem risks reducing the confidence that industry needs to invest in the equipment and support required by the Armed Forces.

Elsewhere the MPs dismissed the MoD’s assumption that “it will achieve significant efficiency savings” of £13bn during the period, given it lacks “a coherent and credible plan for monitoring or delivering them”.

They also criticised the Treasury for “hindering” the long-term plan by requiring departments to work to annual budgets.

Committee chair Meg Hillier MP said: “The MoD simply cannot afford everything it says it needs and it is not acceptable for officials to continue deferring decisions that have a bearing on its current affordability gap and longer-term risks.

“A department that is unwilling or unable to take the action required to help it live within its means is failing taxpayers, who rightly expect Government to deliver the best possible value for their money.

“We urge the MoD to act on our recommendations now, work with the Treasury to ensure its funding and planning models are fit for purpose, and bring some much-needed clarity to its priorities and costs.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "We are confident that we will deliver the equipment plan within budget this year, as we did last year, as we strive to ensure our military have the very best ships, aircraft and vehicles."