Statistics show UK defence spending fell below the NATO target of two percent of GDP in the last financial year.
Recently, the Commons Public Accounts Committee said it was “very concerned” that the £178 billion equipment plan was at risk, citing a fall in the value of the pound against the US dollar leading to “cost increases” for equipment coming from the states.
The figures show that for 2015-2016, the Government spent £36.5 billion which was £5.6 billion less than in 2010-2011.
Earlier in the year, the International Institute for Strategic Studies claimed that British defence spending was 1.98% of GDP in 2016, below the 2% target set out by NATO. This was denied by the government at the time.
In 2006, NATO allies set a target to spend 2% of Gross Domestic Product on defence. The UK oftens meets this target but when reporting its defence expenditure to NATO, the UK now includes several items of expenditure which had not previously been included.
IISS director general John Chipman said:
“In 2016, only two European Nato states – Greece and Estonia – met the aim to spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence, down from four European states that met this measure in 2015. The UK dipped slightly below this at 1.98 per cent, as its economy grew faster in 2016 than its defence spending.
Nonetheless, the UK remained the only European state in the world’s top five spenders in 2016.
If all Nato European countries were in 2016 to have met this 2 per cent of GDP target, their defence spending would have needed to rise by over 40 per cent.”
Recently, Labour MP Wayne David claimed that the 2% target was being met including retired personnel’s pensions, the government have so far declined to comment on this.
The United States has repeatedly called on European allies to contribute more and in recent years NATO’s Secretary General described declining European defence budgets as unsustainable when compared with increased Russian spending on its military.